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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 9 December, 2019
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Open thread: Water charges start from today ... Will you be trying to 'beat the cap'?

Householders can achieve a reduction in their annual bill if they cut their consumption by up to 15 per cent, the Government says.

Image: Shutterstock via Shutterstock

WATER CHARGES FINALLY came into effect this morning — three months later than scheduled, and under a radically re-imagined charging regime, following the Government’s revised plan, announced in mid-November.

As we all know, charges are being capped for the next few years under the new system. Environment Minister Alan Kelly’s plan for ‘Irish Water 2.0′ means that no household in the country will be paying more than €160 a year.

The caps are set to remain in place until this day in 2019.

As part of what was essentially a massive climb-down by the Government, following months of angry protests, Kelly insisted there was still an incentive for householders to try and conserve water in the coming years, as the meter-installation programme continues.

Government estimates, he said, showed that half of households could “beat the cap” if they reduced their consumption by between 10 and 15 per cent.

“Households that do not have a meter installed on 1 January 2015 will commence paying the relevant capped charge,” Kelly explained.

“If after moving to a meter, their consumption for the first year is less than the relevant capped charge, the household will be due a once-off rebate on the amount they paid before moving to a meter.

This will be automatically calculated by Irish Water and normally applied as a once-off credit to the customer’s account.

Whatever about potential savings however, water experts say that householders would have to commit to major lifestyle changes in order to save any money from their bills.

“The change of tack by the Government, with the switch to a flat rate charge, is not going to help conservation efforts,” the Green Party’s Ciarán Cuffe warned, back in November.

Water usage data for the Dublin area showed that from 1 October — when we all thought charging had already commenced — demand for water dropped significantly.  Within a few weeks however, we were all back to our typical habits.

Open thread: Will you change your water usage habits as a result of the introduction of charges? … Do you think people in general will cut-down on toilet-flushes, baths and showers once the first bills start dropping through our letter-boxes?

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