Regional offices to be established to collect water charges

Regional offices to be established to collect water charges

The Department of the Environment has confirmed that the first bills for water charges will be issued to the public in January 2015.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said this followed an agreement with the Troika.

Irish Water also announced it will establish eight regional offices across Ireland, employing approximately 220 people, to support the provision of water and waste water services.

The offices will be set up in Castlebar, Co Mayo; Cavan town; Donegal town; Dublin, Kilkenny and Limerick cities; Mallow, Co Cork; and in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

The centres will each employ between 18 and 32 people, with recruitment drawn from Bord Gáis, local authorities, the Department of Environment and open public recruitment.

These roles are in addition to the 1,600 people who will be employed to install water meters.

Householders will begin receiving installation packages at the beginning of next month, giving them two weeks’ notice about when their meters will be installed.

Mr Hogan said his goal was to create a world class water and waste water system with a secure supply of quality water that will help support job creation and foreign direct investment from water-intensive industries.

He said agreement had been reached with the Troika to defer the date for domestic charges to the fourth quarter of next year, with the first bills being issued in January 2015.

Mr Hogan said he intended to put measures in place for a “first fix free” scheme for properties where leaks are found and said affordability issues would be reflected in the charging structure, which will be the subject of public consultation early next year.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Minister Hogan welcomed the agreement with the Troika, which has agreed to defer the date for the introduction of domestic charges.

Under the original bailout agreement, water charges were due to be introduced in January of next year. Homeowners will now be charged for using water from October 2014, with the bills to arrive three months later.

Mr Hogan would not be drawn on the rates that will be charged, as he said that this was still being determined by the Energy Regulator.

He added the regulator now had more time to determine these and he would report to Government in the autumn.

Mr Hogan said he hoped it would be possible to inform people as to these rates by the end of the year, but that he “did not want to be prescriptive”.

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