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Water charges could still be years away, minister says

Junior minister Fergus O’Dowd tells the Dáil that the installation of water meters in every home could take until 2015.

Image: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

THE INTRODUCTION OF domestic water charges may not take place until 2014 at the earliest, junior minister Fergus O’Dowd has told the Dáil.

Speaking this afternoon, O’Dowd said an independent body would first have to assess the feasibility of a water charges plan before legislation introducing them was tabled in Leinster House.

That process could take up to a year, with the installation of water meters nationwide then potentially taking 1500 staff up to three years to install, at a cost of €500m.

O’Dowd, the junior minister in charge of implementing Fine Gael’s NewERA stimulus plan, said arrangements to introduce charges for domestic water services were a part of the State’s agreement with the EU and IMF in exchange for its €67.5bn funding package.

While a standard household charge was an alternative option, O’Dowd said metered charges would encourage households to conserve their water supplies.

Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea, to whom O’Dowd was responding, accused the government of distancing itself from the policies contained in the NewERA proposals, saying there was no such agreement about water charges in the EU-IMF agreement.

“I am surprised that Minister O’’Dowd thought he could get away with such a misleading suggestion. Fine Gael’’s plans for the setting up of a new water company introducing water charges featured heavily in its New Politics policy document,” O’Dea said.

Legislation on introducing water charges was not included in the government’s list of Bills it expected to publish over the summer Dáil sessions, published yesterday.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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