This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 2 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020
Advertisement

Liveblog

44,007 Views 244 Comments
Share

Updated at 7pm

WATER METERING WON’T be stopping in Dublin this week, Irish Water says — although the utility has confirmed that a number of workers employed by contractor GMC Sierrra have been put on protective notice.

The issue has been in the news this week after Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley said he had learned that meter installation in the capital would be brought to a halt by Friday.

Contractors have been forced to halt their work at dozens of sites – particularly on the northside of Dublin – since metering began early last year, as a result of series of rolling protests by anti-charges groups.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this afternoon in a live Q&A, the contentious semi-state’s head of communications Elizabeth Arnett insisted there was no ‘pull-out’ from the city.

“Most people know that some metering sites around the country have been targeted for protest,” Arnett said.

On occasion, or from time to time, our contractors will suspend works on certain work-sites as much for their health and safety as the members of the public.

In relation to the current issue with GMC Sierra she that while “no-one has lost their job yet” a number of workers have been put on protective notice “in response to some areas where the workload or where the suspension of works in some areas means that that’s an appropriate step for them”.

“No, not at all,” Arnett said, when asked if there was a large scale pull-out from the city by metering contractors…

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Arnett was here for half an hour to answer readers’ questions on everything from registration deadlines and burst pipes to debt collectors and those “no contract, no consent” protests.

More clips from the interview will be posted in the coming days – but here’s the whole thing (below) for the moment…

Thanks to everyone who sent questions – we tried to get through as many as possible but there were tonnes we just couldn’t fit in.

That said, she’s promised to come back in April – as the bills begin to arrive – to answer more of them…

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Contacting Irish Water: 

  • Customer application & General enquiries: 1890 448 448 (8am to 8pm)
  • Meter installation & Water supply: 1890 278 278 (24 hours)
  • Twitter: @IrishWater

Finally, our reporter Aoife Barry liveblogged the whole Q&A as it happened — check below for the detail…

If you have a question about Irish Water, you’ve come to the right place. Elizabeth Arnett is in the building and we’re going to be putting your queries about all things water charges to her.

Want to join in? Comment below, email daragh@thejournal.ie or tweet us 

I’m Aoife and I’ll be liveblogging the whole thing – so even if you can’t watch the video, you can stay tuned into our updates.

IMG_4326

Daragh Brophy and Elizabeth Arnett are at the high table. What’s first on the agenda?

It’s Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley’s statement that some water meter installations are finishing up. Arnett says that in fact, the metering programme is well ahead of schedule, and well ahead of the targets set for them. They installed almost 9,500 meters last week alone.

Health and safety of workers has been an issue, says Arnett. They have four major contractors.

A number of workers were put on protective notice in response to suspension of work in some areas, she acknowledged, but no one has lost their job.

From time to time, they do suspend work for health and safety reasons – but to suggest it’s a wide scale curtailment is not the case.

Each of the regions work independently, and work is continuing on all of them, says Arnett.

Their monthly target for installation is 27,000 meters a month. “We don’t want to put anybody’s health and safety at risk,” says Arnett. But if there are issues on the street, they will suspend works.

Irish Water is getting ready for billing customers for domestic services, which means confirming details for households – and these details (or lack thereof) could affect your water bill.

Here’s why:

They’re preparing for billing in April, so they want as much info as they can get – there’s still time to get in touch, but if you haven’t registered with Irish Water yet, Arnett says it will take less than five minutes.

If you don’t get your details in? You could get hit with a higher charge.

There will be a cutoff for the conservation grant though, probably later in the summer.

“We don’t want people getting bills they shouldn’t get. We don’t want people getting bills that are too high,” says Arnett.

People have been asking about penalties. What does Irish Water have to say about that?

The penalties would only start kicking in in a year’s time. It’s “very early” to be talking about debt collectors. 

“Our starting point is that there is a high compliance in terms of payment of charges,” says Arnett.

“It’s our job to make sure it is easy and convenient for people to engage with us.”

How many people have been in touch with Irish Water?

“We have 1.223million households that have responded already, and almost a million are Irish Water customers,” says Arnett,  calling it a “good response”.

What about packs saying ‘no contract, no consent’ or with other protest slogans? Daragh asks what Irish Water has to say about that.

Less than 15,000 have come back in that respect and less than 20,000 have come back unanswered, says Arnett:

In terms of the legal standing of it, the point to make here is the Oireachtas passed legislation to make water charges the law of the land. It’s not a discretionary charge. It’s not a contract people are entering into, because it’s legislation.

Also – it could be June before you get your first bill. And you’ll be billed every quarter.

IMG_4330 Source: Michelle Hennessy

Renting?

The occupier is considered the resident of a house. Irish Water is contacting landlords directly to say “come forward and talk to us and we’ll make sure the occupier of your property is the person we engage with going forward”, Arnett tells us.

Are you a landlord? Talk to the tenant first – and get in touch with Irish Water if you want more info.

As it stands, the landlord is liable unless an occupier says they’re living there and will deal with the bill. The landlord can give Irish Water the occupier’s name so they can be contacted.

Is there a cap on charges? Arnett says yes.

You’ll pay no more than €160 for a single adult and no more than €260 two adults or more.

If you have a meter outside your house and are using less water, you will automatically be charged less than the relevant cap.

About a third of the households would come in under the cap, without any  change to their behaviour, says Arnett.

Readers’ questions now…

A question from a landlord – what’s the situation with current tenants and if they don’t pay?

The main thing is the tenant is responsible for the charge. If they leave, Irish Water needs to know about this change.

They will pursue the debt with whoever is responsible, ie the tenant.

That’s how it stands at the moment.

What about if there are multiple tenants?

You nominate who is the person whose name will go on the bill, they pay the conservation grant.

You put the same arrangement in place as other utility bills, says Arnett.

Another reader’s question, this time about security firms at water metering site.

“It’s not that there is security provided on site, per se, it’s that there is additional security on site to gather evidence [for court cases],” says Arnett.

There were recent photos of security workers filming at an Irish Water protest, who were wearing Irish Water bibs, with their face covered. What does Irish Water have to say about that?

“Wearing an Irish Water bib and being from Irish Water are not the same thing,” says Arnett. She says face covering is not something that is acceptable for Irish Water.

Another reader question, about unfinished estates.

In principle, Irish Water will take an unfinished estate as part of the public network if it is in a reasonable state.

The current process is if the infrastructure doesn’t require that Irish Water go in and spend money on it, they will take it in charge. But if there are issues such as need for repair, it’s not so straightforward.

It’s particularly difficult when there is a private waste water treatment plant, says Arnett.

They take it on a case-by-case basis.

One reader wants to know about apartment blocks. Irish Water reckons it will do about 50,000 apartments as part of its metering programme.

What about if you haven’t received a pack and haven’t registered? Get in touch, says Arnett.

Head of Irish Water, John Tierney, hasn’t been in the media much of late.

Why? He is “running the business” says Arnett – it’s her job to go out and talk to the media.

IMG_4317

That’s all for our livestream question and answers with Elizabeth Arnett, head of communications for Irish Water.

Thanks for all your questions and comments for our reporter Daragh Brophy, and do keep an eye out for our future Hotseat interviews.

About the author:

COMMENTS (244)