Household water charges the cure to the water crisis?

Household water charges the cure to the water crisis?

Household water charges the cure to the water crisis?As water supplies across the country remain at critically low levels, authorities last night warned that water supplies in some parts of the country may not be back to normal for several months.

It”s no secret that Ireland has one of the highest water availability rates in Europe and according to Met eireann annual rainfall … totals in 2009 were well above normal for the second successive year. However Irish rivers which are the source for much of the Irish water supply are just not able to keep up with the demand.

The water shortages came as Chambers Ireland said the issue highlighted the need for water meters and charges for all users to be introduced as a matter of urgency. The body”s deputy chief executive Sean Murphy said “Water shortages simply would not happen if people were paying for these scarce resources.”

However one TD said “The latest water shortage crisis was entirely predictable given the shambolic state of the country”s water network and the Government”s failure to fix it, especially when 43% of the supply was already leaking into the ground,”

Have your say:

  • Would the introduction of water meters and charges prevent future water shortages and rationing?
  • Or should there be better monitoring and reserving of our water use by authorities throughout the year and not just when supplies run low?
There are 35 comments for this article
  1. Henning at 10:31 pm

    Water meters are surely necessary but they alone won’t solve the problems. The mentioned repairs of the water systems are certainly necessary too – but again, this costs money. Decades of neglecting technical systems like these cannot be solved in one year – again, it comes back to my initial issue: The waste of water and the waste of money. Both has to be stopped. My solution suggestions seem to be crazy – but in the end they are a realistic way.
    25 years ago the first environmentalists have been regarded as some mental freaks by the establishment and common people alike – and now those ‘warners’ with theirs previously ‘crazy’ suggestions are highly recognized.
    As a kid I suggested to shoot radioactive waste to the sun – I was laughed at. Now, since NASA scientists have the same idea, it is finally considered. I am really tired of the stupidity of the majority of the people. Sorry.

  2. Phyllis at 8:52 pm

    Fix the delivery system – huge wastage of expensively treated water there.
    But, what next air usage meters on our noses….

  3. mrs.X at 8:46 am


  4. Vincent Mockler at 12:16 am

    I think the Councils should be monitoring the water situation on a more regular basis rather than just when a crises arises.
    For those of us fortunate enough to have a job we are already paying enough tax without haviingg a water tax as well.
    Other countries who have heavier and more frequent falls of snow than we have dont appear to be having the same problems as we have.
    In the long run water charges will not have the effect of conserving more water, so it would be better to have more regular monitoring of the water situation.

  5. Neil Uttamsingh at 10:13 pm

    I find this an interesting topic of conversation. I am Canadian and I live just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    Living so close the ‘The Great Lakes’, we have never had any issues to date regarding the consumption of water.

    Having said this, I do believe incorporating water meters of some sort of rationing system would make sense.

    I hope that your government is proactive and is making the right decisions that will support the majority of people.

    Best Regards,

  6. Margaret Byrne at 2:08 pm

    I think it is a disgrace that the shortage of water after our weataher conditions that we had. If only the couonty Countil’s get their act toghether and fixed the out-dated pipes that already exist.

  7. ray at 1:20 pm

    you can’t build all the extra houses, apartments and office buildings around the country as has been without the need for additional reservoirs. this is one of many problems. the council charged the developers massive amounts of money and never put it into anything that was required – such as upgrade to roads, upgrade to water network etc. so this is one reason for the water shortages – even with the wettest summers in the past couple of years there has been hose pipe bans due to lack of water.
    the other issue is that the water network is in bad need of upgrade and repair – get the 2 of these things sorted and get water metres in place and we will all do better out of it.

  8. Henning Duve at 11:24 am

    Though technically water is free, it is understandable that water treatment costs money and this treatment has to be paid for. But because EVERYbody needs water and water is a necessity to stay alive, it should be included in the taxes we pay to this state – otherwise it would be a ‘hidden’ double taxation, and that is illegal. Hence: First we have to stop the waste of money within the state and so save loads of billions of Euros that we then can put into the improvement of the ridiculous Irish water system. If this is not enough, scrap 50% of the Taoiseach’s salary and put this as well into the water system – and, behold! Ireland would have the most advanced water system in Europe!

  9. Gerard at 2:05 am

    TAL, well said

  10. Tony at 9:52 pm

    really sickens me to hear the wasters in the local authority blaming people and the lack of metres for the shortage, the fact that they have the nerve to publically state this shows how little the ruling classes think of the public.
    Remember on voting day, which will be soon

  11. gin at 8:10 pm

    the water shortages are due to bad infrastructure not over use by people, please nobody fall for the spin spin spin spin spin spin by the so called government, we should all know better by now. Fool me once shame on you Fool me twice shame on US. Spin Spin Spin Spin Spin don’t forget it!

  12. Cedric Picard at 9:11 pm

    Let us not be fooled here, the only reason why water charges are being mentioned at the moment is a cop out from the government to take its responsibilities and address the maintenance of the water delivery system which they have been ignoring for decades. Why should I start paying for water of the exact same quality, just because hords of managers have not been doing their job? As a country that’s being rained up 2/3 of the year, water shortages should not exist. Period.

    Water is the basis of life, and is a basic human need, just as much as air. Are we going to charge for the air we breathe?

  13. Alex Onayemi. at 8:40 pm

    Ireland is surrounded by water, we get quite a size able quantity of rainfall every year, not to mention the recent flooding, so why should there be water shortage if those in authority really have any idea of resource management. It’s unfortunate we don’t have people with brain in power, only those who have mouth to shout and blab get to express their empty opinions. When any government establishment fails the easy option has always been lets tax the people more so we can be seen to be providing a solution to the problem! We now pay up to half of our earnings in one form of tax or the other and yet we are expected to pay for those things the tax we pay should provide for us free.

  14. Alex at 8:25 pm

    Very soon we will be asked to pay for the air we breath. When the banking system failed, we are asked to take pay cuts and heavy tax to rescue the “fat cows”. Those responsible for the maintenance of the water network had been negligent and inefficient in the discharge of their duties, they are now talking about charging us more in order to be able to perform their neglected duties: what an easy way out! blaming others for your shortcomings.
    If i pay for electricity, gas, road tax for driving a car, health insurance because of the shabby health care system, my PRSI couldn’t get me a free dental care, pay for disposing off my domestic wastes, pay carbon tax on every litre of fuel i purchase, pay pension contribution and a tax on it, then why do i need to pay any tax at all ( PAYE and income tax). What does the government use the PAYE and income tax for ( totaling up to 50% of my earnings) if i still have to pay for everything including the water i drink. I would rather be happier to sinking a borehole in my back garden than pay water rate because then i’d have a better control and maintenance and artificially created water shortages wouldn’t be an issue.

  15. Christopher Brennan at 8:22 pm

    While I do agree with Daniel Duggan in his crititism of those who willfully waste water by leaving taps on rather than insulate their homes and pipes, I do not agree with yet another levy on the Irish taxpayer to pay for yet another show of government mismanagement. Europe and environment watchdogs for the last ten to fifteen years have been crititizing the Irish Government for not investing in the water network in Ireland. The creaking hulks of pipes that we get our household water from are too old. Modernization of our water supply network is well overdue, this cannot be denied, but as typical with the Irish government there is no accountability where the money we would be deducted to pay for this upgrade will actually go in the end. Where has all our tax revenue for the boom years gone? Europe have helped us build up our Road network. Most designated town centres have been built using European sponsored monies as well as our own. Instead of charging the Irish people for yet another shambolic failure on our own governments blundering attempt to run this country, why don’t we do what our ministers have never had a problem doing in the past? Beg Europe!

    We pay motor tax, VRT, vat on petrol, vat on our insurance and vat on the NCT… Yet our roads are full of potholes that the councils say is not their fault if you damage your car in them and that they don’t have the immediate funds to pay for upgrading the road infrastructure. So if we spend all that money on our cars and get no value for money, what is the supposed water rates going to pay for?

  16. kh at 6:44 pm

    Unbelievable- we are surrounded by water- yet the debate continues.. Am totally against water charges. Let the authority sort out community leaking pipes and water pressure…What next- being charged for the air we breathe???????

  17. alan at 2:39 pm

    Better monitoring of our reserves are needed.
    Why is it everytime a government department fails to manage its affairs they penalise the tax payer by demanding money to fix their problem, Think about were one of the most rained on countries in the eu and if we get two weeks of sunshine we start running out of water, that is simply poor management!

  18. Des at 1:14 pm

    Well, think of it like this. If 43% of any investment were leaking out onto the ground, would you buy into it!! It is like the banking system, to many holes in it, the punter on the ground has to trump up the readies!!
    Sort out the service first and then ask people to pay for it. No prob paying for a efficient /life needing service. Think about it, pump more water into pipes to find the holes – mad stuff. Bit like what we are doing with the Banks. Got that off the chest. Bring on weekend.

  19. Tom Brophy at 12:59 pm

    It seems like local authorities are accountability-free zones:
    a) they’re supposed to maintain roads and paths, but if you suffer loss/injury as a result of them not maintaining roads and paths, it’s nothing to do with them
    b) they’re responsible for planning enforcement, but if an issue arises their first port of call is to dump the issue on residents
    c) they’re responsible for public areas when they take an estate in charge, but give you the poor mouth whenever they’re asked to do anything. (It has taken my estate of ~200 units (a mix of 3/4 bed semis, 4 bed det, and 20 apartments) almost 12 years to get a single litter bin in the estate.)

    It seems to me like water charges are another example of b) above. So they’ll treat the symptom while absolving themselves of any responsibility for the state of the network. Any politician will have a hard time getting me to pay water rates to cover up their incompetence.

  20. Fergal at 12:58 pm

    Is there no end to the poor planning, lack of foresight and general ineptitude of the County Councils, Department of the Environment and the Government. I understand that there’s more to being an active and responsible citizen than bi*#hing about the powers that be but i feel that i can’t let, in my own small way, let them off the hook for this. We are being assaulted on a weekly/bi-weekly basis with stories of how badly managed this country has been over the last decade or so despite huge amounts of money being provided by the EU to shore up our Water Services/Wastewater Services facilities. It just beggars belief how superficial and useless all of the guff, National Development Plans and various schemes and strategies were over the years. I would call for legislation allowing by-elections to be held should a petition of 1000 plus names (for example) being signed expressing dissatisfaction at a public representatives performance. Everyone else must go through a “probation” period and performance evaluation.

    On the water charges topic, it’s inevitable that this will be imposed at some time in the near future. In fairness, i think it’s in order and will go some way to ensure that people think of water in a different and more environmentally sustainable way. I don’t know however if the current crisis would have happened had people been paying for water as Sean Murphy states. I don’t mean to be flippant but surely it’s more to do with the fact that 43% of water(imagine 43%, that’s astonishing!!) is leaking from the network. I can’t bang my head off a wall all day every day. Time i think to give the government a good kick up the backside when actions speak louder than words.

  21. Stephen Byrne at 12:32 pm

    Water charges should not be introduced for very good reasons:

    Firstly,the water authorities would control a fundamental resource and could cut off supplies to households that were unable to pay their water bill on time (we only have to look at the other utility companies with their complicated customer service telephone contact incompetence).

    Secondly, their is a health issue,for example, householders would be unable to flush toilets,wash their hands and have showers or baths if the water supply was interrupted. We are trying to eradicate poor hygiene practices,therefore uninterrupted water supplies is essential.

    Thirdly, most water waste very often is as a result of a poorly maintained infrstructure;local authorities need to sort this water loss quickly by repairing pipes as soon as they receive reports of leaks.

    Finally,any individual or company who knowingly or deliberately wastes precious water should be fined.Education and advertising about this important resource is the way forward.

  22. Peter O’Connor at 12:03 pm

    Daniel Duggan – He’s spot on.

  23. MC at 12:02 pm

    I have paid water charges in another country when I lived there but then the pressure in the house was adequate and the charge was kept at a reasonable rate! However this charge won’t improve the obvious failures to maintian the water system especially when reported leaks (and reported numerous times) are not repaired!

    As for bonuses for what doing their jobs!!!! I think not but certainly fines for not repairing known leaks within a reasonable time frame woudl be acceptable.

  24. Peter O’Connor at 12:01 pm

    User should pay. The standing charges are ridiculous though. We pay more that 2x in S.C. than in usage because we harvest rain for the toilets. (B&B) In effect we’re being penalised for being conservative. (Small c !!)
    Plus if one pays for a product and it’s not up to scratch – sue. That’ll wake the ba***rds up.

  25. Jeremiak Kiely at 11:58 am

    Yes everyone should pay water charges. It would help to prevent wastage. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

  26. Tom at 11:50 am

    here here, its about time we stood up to the endless taxes, even PRSI is just a tax now!

  27. Margaret Moynihan at 11:46 am

    I will NOT pay for water charges when it comes in until i get a good service. they can send me to jail, thats how strongly i feel about it.

  28. Tom at 11:41 am

    If the authorities fixed the problems with the water networks then we would not be running into these problems. Why don’t the authorities get taxed for wasting water. Just because they cannot be bothered we pay!

  29. Desmond Gilhooly at 11:39 am

    I think Daniel is being overly harsh in his criticism of people, despite best efforts it may not always be possible to lag pipes. I’ve heard reports of people who lagged all their pipes inside only to discover the builder had laid the external pipes too close to the surface so they were frozen. Being mean or stupid has nothing to do with it.

    His proposal of bonuses, well we all know how well that working in banking. This “crisis” is simply a case of something which should be controlled centrally, being controlled/delegated to individual and insular entities.

  30. Sean at 11:35 am

    Joe G has nailed it and stated just what I wanted to say. Water metering is certainly required but the water providers need to stop wasting water too.

    Just to add to Joe G’s comments, let me add that it is very dissappointing that we once had the money to address this and other issues (when the government were practicing bareback riding of the mythical celtic tiger) and this is another example of this government’s complete incompetence. Please remove them at the next election and don’t be duped by further promises as one of the things they are particularly good at is breaking promises!

  31. Pat Connolly at 11:34 am

    Water,Water every where and not a sup to drink never mind bathe.
    I blame the water authority for this mess,we have plenty of water but nobody to manage the so called network

  32. Desmond Gilhooly at 11:34 am

    In the long term yes, water charges will have to be introduced, however the water supply infrastructure like all other infrastructure in this country has been ignored. If they are brought in now, it will be for the purpose of paying for the improvements which should already have been done and then a few years down the line, when a government needs a boost they’ll be reduced or eliminated like local rates were.
    All Infrastructure in the country should be brought under the aegis of a central national authority, the recent inclement weather and current crises which councils are lurching between demonstrate that having them responsible for certain infrastructure in their domain is not feasible because they are approaching it in an insular way rather cohesively on a national level.

  33. Joe G at 11:24 am

    There are two separate issues here, water shortage and charging for water supplied.
    1. The water shortage is caused mainly by the local authorities / Dept. of the Environment not maintaining the delivery system (pipes, etc,) so the water losses through leakage are enormous and very expensive. As usual in Ireland every group with any responsibility will point the finger at some other group. It is up to government to set up a national water board, to be responsible for the delivery of water to every outlet in the country and to monitor usage.

    2. Water is NOT free: storage, treatment and delivery costs are involved and when you think how much Coca Cola, Ballygowan and Evian will charge you to deliver a litre of their ‘water’ to your local supermarket, you will understand why water meters are needed urgently. Someone pays for the water we use, but until we see it priced on a bill or invoice, we will continue to assume that it is paid for by someone else and we will continue to waste it.
    Water metering, like the metering of electricity or gas, is the most equitable way to charge for supply.

    Water is now far too valuable a commodity to be either wasted or taken for granted.

  34. anonymous at 11:19 am

    Unless those water leaks are fixed in water supply network, i don’t see the water problem going away. Water network is built decades ago and never been looked after that.

  35. Daniel Duggan at 11:16 am

    Water meters are essential; they are the only way to ensure the user pays. Why should careful consumer subsidize those who waste water, particularly those who are too mean or too stupid to insulate their water pipes and consider leaving a tap running overnight to be an acceptable substitute?
    Regarding the leaks, the managers at the water supplier should be fined or rewarded annually in proportion to the leakage and loss of water; this is the only way to focus their minds on reducing the leakage to a minimum.

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