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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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Customers unlikely to face disconnection for unpaid water charges

The CEO of Bord Gais, which is setting up the new Uisce Éireann, says water is too important to disconnect.

Image: Tom Raftery via Flickr

HARD-UP HOUSEHOLDS who fall into arrears on their water charges will not have their connections cut off, the chief executive of the body rolling out water charges has assured.

Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins, whose body is responsible for the establishment of the new metering body Uisce Éireann, says water is too important a utility to have disconnected from a household.

“When it comes to water, water is absolutely essential – as other utilities are, but particularly in the case of water,” Mullins told RTÉ’s News at One.

“It’s unlikely – and it’s the case in other jurisdictions – that disconnections will happen for domestic customers.”

Mullins added that some of the payment options available to Bord Gais Energy customers, such as pay-as-you-go metering and direct debits, would be available to customers of the new Uisce Éireann body.

“The job that Irish Water has is to encourage payment,” Mullins said, and not to regulate the actual supply of water to homes.

Regional plumbers will be given work

Mullins added that the body was making efforts to ensure that local suppliers would be given some of the work for installing water meters to the country’s homes, saying the contract to fit meters would be broken into 285 regional work packages.

These would be overseen by regional contractors to ensure that meters were installed efficiently and appropriately.

Mullins said the government had not yet announced the date by which water charges would kick in, but affirmed that Uisce Éireann’s own billing system would be in operation by January 2014.

This is in line with the timetable unveiled in a recent Troika report – and could mean charges coming in far earlier than the ‘late 2014′ indication previously given by environment minister Phil Hogan.

It remains up to the government to decide the date at which charges will begin, however, and it may opt to delay the charges until after the local and European elections in 2014.

Once the full metering system was in place and Uisce Éireann was eligible for credit ratings, Mullins said the body would seek funding from the European Investment Bank to upgrade the overall Irish piping system – some of which are centuries old.

Read: Leaked EU report: Water charges to kick in from January 2014

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Gavan Reilly

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