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Dublin: 17°C Wednesday 22 September 2021

Ireland's water charges are among the lowest in Europe...*

* And that’s even before they were suspended. Dublin meanwhile ranks 31st out of 31 European cities in terms of percentage income spent on charges each year.

shutterstock_366821714 Source: Shutterstock/Kjeld Friis

WATER CHARGES IN Ireland have been a huge source of controversy for over two years now.

The charges and the establishment of governing body Irish Water were a black cloud that seemed to follow the last government around no matter where it went.

In the aftermath of the last election the charges were officially suspended and an expert commission on water was established (which in less than a week managed to shed its chairman Joe O’Toole).

The charges are a thorny subject whatever way you look at it. But examining the figures shows that the charges Irish people (specifically those in the Dublin area) were until recently paying (in theory at least) weren’t particularly high by European standards.

water bill Annual water charges in 31 European cities Source: GWI

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In fact, if you take the charges applicable in 31 European cities and take them as a percentage of average income in that country, Dublin, and by proxy Ireland, ranks the lowest out of all 31 with just 1.3% of median income spent on charges.

The figures are a rough approximation given the charges information given relates to cities, and not countries, but a relatively informative set of data is nevertheless presented.

Looking at the charges themselves, those seen in Dublin (and again by proxy Ireland) are the fifth lowest seen in the 31 European cities surveyed at €263 annually (Sofia, Bulgaria, has the lowest at €169 yearly).

Table Source: GWI/Eurostat

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Copenhagen, Glasgow, and Berlin have the most expensive charges seen across the 31 cities surveyed with annual charges of €1,013, €985, and €972 respectively.

However, given the average income seen in these cities is much higher than in other European countries, their ranking on the percentage scale of income spent on charges is not quite so high – with Berlin ranking highest of the three at number 10 out of 31.

income spent Percentage income spent on water charges Source: GWI/Eurostat

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The city statistics come from the July 2016 Global Water Tariff Survey as published by Global Water Intelligence (apart from those of Malta, which are published nationally in that country), which compares the amount charged for water in cities across the globe per cubic metre.

Income statistics meanwhile are taken from Eurostat, the European statistics body (most income data is from 2015, with some, including that of Dublin itself, representing 2014 figures).

Read: FactCheck: Does every other country in Europe have water charges?

Read: FactCheck: Does Ireland really lead the world for skilled labour?

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