IT HAS BEEN CONFIRMED that the Troika has signed off on a delay to Ireland’s system of water charges – agreeing to a 12-month delay in the arrival of the first bills.
Environment minister Phil Hogan has confirmed that the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund signed off on the delay during their last inspection of Ireland’s bailout progress.
The agreement reached with the Troika will see water charges come into effect in the fourth quarter of 2014 – but with the first bills not issued until the end of the first three-month window for charges.
This means that the first bills for water charges will not arrive in homes until the beginning of 2015.
The government had said it would seek a delay in the rollout of the charges, on the basis that it would be too difficult for households to cover a new water charge at the same time as the local property tax was being introduced on a full-year basis.
Still no decision on pricing – or timetable to install meters
However, Hogan says there is still no decision on the level of pricing for water charges – but that it has been agreed that householders will not have to bear the cost of having the meters installed.
“It would be inappropriate to release estimates of the cost of the metering programme in advance of the completion of the ongoing competitive procurement process,” Hogan said in response to written Dáil questions from SF’s Peadar Toibín and FF’s Robert Troy.
“A pre-installation survey is currently being conducted by the local authorities to provide further information on the scope of the metering programme and this will identify those properties which already have boundary boxes and meters installed.”
The Commission for Energy Regulation is expected to undertake a public consultation to determine how much should be charged for water.
In the last update to the Troika’s memorandum of understanding, it was claimed that this consultation would be completed by the end of the year.
Earlier this year the Department of the Environment suggested that the installation of one million domestic water meters would begin this July – but not be completed until September 2016.
However, with no sign of this installation beginning shortly, it could be 2017 before any programme of installing meters is completed. In the meantime, it is likely that households will play a flat fee that does not reflect their actual water consumption.