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Water charges will be read digitally

There will also be a public consultation as part of the process of determining water charges.

IRISH WATER HAS yet to decide what the cost of water charges in Ireland will be – but we do know that the charges will be read digitally.

Christine Heffernan of Bord Gáis, spokesperson for the semi-State agency Irish Water, told TheJournal.ie that the water meters will be installed outside the boundaries of people’s homes, and will provide automated meter readings.

They will emit signals which the reader will be able to collect digitally while driving past the meters.

Meters

None of the meters have been installed to date, but the plan is to install 27,000 a month until they are all fitted. The meter fittings will commence in July of this year, and the charges themselves will kick in in 2014.

Irish Water has to develop the framework that will set out how much water charges will come to, and how the billing system will work. It is expected that the Government will have meetings with the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) about the charges.

Homeowners that do not have meters when charges begin will be charged an ‘assessed charge’ – but it is not yet known what this will be. The intention is that this charge should be based on an assessment of roughly the consumption of water according to the type of house.

There will be a free allocation or free allowance of water, but it is not know yet what this will be either.

Earlier this month, a draft document from the European Commission revealed that the Irish Government feared a popular boycott of the water charges .

Legislation

The legislation has been introduced in the Seanad in relation to the establishment of Irish Water on statutory basis, and it is expected to pass through the Dáil in mid-February.

This is interim legislation and it is expected primary legislation will follow from that at the end of this year. The legislation amends the Gas Act to give Bord Gáis the legal basis to operate within the water sector and gives it power to begin meter installations, and access databases to pull together a customer database. It also gives the CER the powers to begin the process of regulating the water sector.

It is anticipated just over a million meters will be installed by the end of 2016. The regulator will hold a public consultation as part of the process of determining water charges, so people will get to have their say on the issue.

Read: Dublin City Council head John Tierney appointed new boss at Irish Water>

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