Thousands of homeowners who are already paying for their drinking water are set to be charged double when water charges are introduced sometime in the next two years.
According to newspaper reports today, of the 170,000 households in a group water scheme, more than 50,000 already paying up to €100 a year will also have to pay a separate charge to Irish Water.
This is because wastewater from their toilets and kitchen appliances, including washing machines, is discharged into public sewer systems.
Water charges were due to be introduced next year but may now be delayed until 2015.
The charges will be made up of two components – ‘water in’, or drinking water, and ‘water out’, which is to cover the cost of treating wastewater.
These homes already pay for ‘water in’ by way of annual fees to a private group water scheme. They will now be hit for the ‘water out’ part when billing is introduced.
Up to six staff at the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will begin working on a billing and payment structure later this year. They will recommend the amount each householder will have to pay, and the final decision will then be taken by Government.
Irish Water, which will be responsible for billing 1.7 million households, said a “small” number of people on group water schemes would get annual bills.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that 53,979 households draw their drinking water from a group water scheme but discharge into a public sewer.