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Irish Water wants allowance of 38,000 litres per child reduced

However, Enda Kenny has insisted that “every child” will be free.

Updated: 5.40pm

TOAISEACH ENDA KENNY has told the Dáil that “every child” will be free in terms of water charges.

This is despite the fact the Commission for Energy Regulation has this afternoon told the Environment Committee that Irish Water wants the 38,000 litre allowance per child reduced.

Paul McGowan, CER Commissioner said that Irish Water does not feel the allowance “accurately represents” the usage of a child, and may ask for this to be reduced.

“Reflecting that in charges will ensure that there isn’t cross-substitution in houses with children and those without children,” McGowan said.

He added that Irish Water would have to provide “very robust analysis” to prove that “38,000 is not the right number”.

Members of the Commission were somewhat restricted in what they could tell the Environment Committee about water charges.

The issue arose when it emerged that Irish Water had failed to provide a submission to the Commission on pricing, as had previously been planned.

Committee chair Barry Cowen said that not having the report hindered them from “getting down to the nitty gritty” of how much water charges will cost the public.

I don’t want to mince my words but we are very annoyed, some are angered … by the attitude of Irish Water.

He noted that those present were not to blame, adding that this was “the latest in a series of delays”.

barry cowen 1 july Source: Oireachtas TV

McGowan said that he shared the committee’s disappointment with Irish Water’s failure to provide the submission.

The schedule was always a challenging timeline.

‘A fiasco’

Despite resting the blame on Irish Water during the meeting, afterwards Cowen criticised the CER’s “basic lack of professionalism” for being unable to answer questions on pricing that would have been covered in the submission.

Today’s Oireachtas committee meeting was a fiasco. It was a fiasco because two public organisations showed total disrespect for the Oireachtas and by extension the citizens they have been established to serve.

“The fact that the Regulator would turn up for a meeting with public representatives without having secured the information that they were coming to talk about raises some very serious question marks over the competence of that organisation and whether it is fit for the purpose of regulating a nationwide water utility.

Today, Irish Water has made a fool of the organisation we are supposed to trust to keep the monopoly in check.

“For its part, Irish Water has lived down to the very low expectations that people now have for them,” Cowen said in a statement this evening.

Everybody pays

During the meeting, McGowan noted that “even with zero consumption there is not zero cost”, adding that the CER has asked Irish Water for a “minimum fee” to be charged in relation to non-primary residencies such as holiday homes.

McGowan said that those on an assessed charge, would see reductions or increases in their bills depending on their usage.

The CER chair stressed that the €240 annual average fee was just that: an average cost, noting some houses would pay more and others less.

McGowan said that the initial rates would apply from October 2014 to the end of 2016.

He added that the Commission had not yet received the list of medical conditions that would result in an allowance.

i water 1 Paul McGowan Source: Oireachtas TV

McGowan said that there would be no standing charge and a 50:50 split between costs for water and waste water.

“If people have been on boil water notice for some time there may be situation where that 50% could be increased,” he added.

Originally published: 3.55pm

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Read: Irish Water has advised people to give their toilets “a smaller flush” to save water

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Órla Ryan

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