THE LEGISLATION behind the creation of a new system of water charges will begin its path through the Oireachtas this afternoon when the Bill is introduced to the Seanad.
The Water Services Bill would give legal creation to the new Irish Water body, which will initially be established under the aegis of Bord Gais, which will take responsibility for water distribution and charges from local authorities.
The legislation, which will be introduced by junior minister Fergus O’Dowd, will provide the new body with the power to install water meters in all domestic properties and to levy charges for water use.
Existing legislation from 2007 already outlines a scheme by which occasional water charges can be levied by local authorities, but the appropriate part of that legislation has not yet been commenced.
The new Bill will amend this so that the new Irish Water entity has the power to levy such charges, though the government says this will not begin before January 2014.
The legislation was published only two days before TheJournal.ie revealed major concerns among the European Commission at the progress Ireland was making in bringing in the charges before Ireland’s bailout programme wraps up at the end of this year.
The draft document, which has not yet been published in its final form, said the process of setting up Irish Water was advancing only at a “slow pace” and criticised the delay in formulating a general estimate as to the average charge that a household could expect.
There was also criticism about the government’s delay in organising the installation of water meters in Irish homes, which is likely to begin in the third quarter of this year and which will take years to complete.