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Water charges

Introduction

A new system of domestic water charges has been introduced for homes that are connected to a public water supply or to public wastewater services. Irish Water, the new national water utility, will administer the water charges. Revisions to the system were announced on 19 November 2014.

The new measures include:

  • Caps on annual charges
  • A Water Conservation Grant of €100 per year
  • PPS Numbers no longer required for registration with Irish Water
  • Closing date for applications to ensure accurate first bills is 2 February 2015
  • First quarterly bills will issue from April 2015, in respect of January-March 2015 - no bills will issue for water used between 1 October 2014 and 31 December 2014

The proposed water services allowance of 30,000 litres per year has been abolished. Instead, the charges are being capped and the rate per 1,000 litres of water has been reduced from €4.88 to €3.70.

There is no change at present in the charging system for people on group water schemes or for commercial users. The minimum ‘not permanently occupied’ charge for second homes and vacant properties has not changed.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has published the key elements of the new measures (pdf) and a set of detailed FAQs (pdf). Further information is available from Irish Water.

Who is liable to pay?

The occupier of the property that gets water and/or wastewater services from Irish Water will be liable to pay domestic water charges under the new system. If you own a property, you will be presumed to be the occupier, unless it is proven otherwise.

Rental properties

The tenant of a property is the occupier and is responsible for paying the water charges. Landlords can provide the names of their tenants in order to prove that they are not the occupier, and Irish Water will then contact the tenants.

If there are no tenants in the property, the minimum “not permanently occupied” charge applies – see ‘Rates’ below.

Types of water/wastewater system

If your water comes from a private well or a group water scheme and you have a private wastewater treatment system (such as a septic tank) you will not be regarded as a customer of Irish Water and will not have to pay the new domestic water charges. (However, if you register with Irish Water, you can still get a Water Conservation Grant – see below.)

The following table shows which types of system will and will not be subject to the new domestic water charges:

Water supplier Wastewater Customer of Irish Water?
Public mains Public sewer Yes
Public mains Own treatment (septic tank or wastewater treatment system) Yes
Group water scheme Public sewer Yes
Group water scheme Own treatment No
Private well Public sewer Yes
Private well Own treatment No

New charging system

Irish Water is installing water meters at present. Your meter will measure the amount of water supplied to your home. The amount of wastewater discharged is assumed to be the same as the amount of water drawn from the supply.

Capped charges

While the meter will measure your water usage, your quarterly bill will be capped at a maximum rate for your household type, so you will not have to pay any more than this capped rate – see ‘Rates’ below. The capped charges will apply until 31 December 2018. Legislation is planned so that charges from 2019 onwards can continue to be subject to caps and allowances.

If you need extra water because of a medical condition, you will not have to provide any extra information, as your bills are capped in the same way as for everyone else. (However, you can apply to be registered for priority services if you are critically dependent on water.)

Rebates

If your metered usage is lower than the cap level, your bill will be less than the capped rate. If you do not yet have a water meter, your bill will be fixed at the relevant capped rate, but after your meter has been installed, you will get a rebate if your metered usage over a 1-year period turns out to be lower than the cap level.

Allowances, grants and discounts

Metered bills will provide for a free allowance to cover each child’s normal water/wastewater needs (21,000 litres per child), regardless of entitlement to Child Benefit.

An annual grant is being provided for every household that is registered with Irish Water –see ‘Water Conservation Grant’ below.

If your water quality is poor and there is a Boil Notice or Drinking Water Restriction Notice in effect, you will get a 100% discount on the water supply element of your charge until the notice is lifted.

Water Conservation Grant

Every household that registers with Irish Water will be eligible for an annual Water Conservation Grant, even if the household has private water supply and wastewater services. This grant will be paid by the Department of Social Protection in September 2015. It replaces the Water Support Payment and tax relief that were previously announced. Full details about the grant will be announced in due course. There is no need to contact the Department of Social Protection now as it will communicate with people in mid-2015, inviting them to apply for the Water Conservation Grant.

The grant is available to all households in their principal private dwellings (not second homes). You can use it as you choose, for example, to offset the cost of water bills or put it towards installing a conservation system, maintaining your well or de-sludging your septic tank.

Read more on the Department of Social Protection's website.

Registering with Irish Water

Irish Water has sent application packs to every home in the State, asking people to indicate which (if any) public water services they have, and to confirm their household details. All households are being asked to register – even if you don’t use any public water services, you will need to register in order to get the Water Conservation Grant – see ‘How to apply’ below.

The requirement to provide Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSNs) has now been removed. Irish Water has developed a protocol, in consultation with the Data Protection Commissioner, under which it will delete all PPSNs that it has collected.

If you don’t register, you will be charged at a default maximum charge of €260 per year – €65 per quarter – and you will not qualify for the Water Conservation Grant.

Billing and payment

Domestic water bills will issue 4 times a year. The first bills will issue from April 2015, in respect of the quarter January-March 2015. No bills will issue for water used between 1 October 2014 and 31 December 2014.

You can opt for paper or paperless billing. Irish Water has developed a confidential special services register for customers who need billing or other customer services adapted to suit their needs and you can choose to get your bill in a range of accessible formats.

There will be several payment options for water bills, including direct debit; electronic funds transfer; full or partial payment (of at least €5) at post offices and retail outlets.

If you are in financial difficulty, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) can help with budgeting in general. The Exceptional Needs Payment is available to people who have severe financial difficulties.

Irish Water has outlined its approach to customers who have payment difficulties. This includes developing payment plans and engaging with relevant agencies, such as MABS, with the customer’s permission.

If you don’t pay your bills

Irish Water will not cut you off or reduce your water supply, but late payment penalties will accrue on your account.

Provision will be made for a statutory charge on property if bills/penalties remain unpaid. For private tenants who do not pay, legislation is planned to enable landlords to withhold water charge arrears from the tenant’s deposit and pay them to Irish Water. Local authorities will also be obliged to recover arrears from their tenants and pay them to Irish Water.

Irish Water can also take people to court if they don’t pay their bills.

Rates

If you have a meter, your bill will either be based on your metered usage or fixed at a capped level, whichever is lower. See below for details of metered and capped rates.

There is no charge for children aged under 18 – their usage is covered by a free allowance.

The Water Conservation Grant is €100 per year.

The minimum charge for unoccupied dwellings is €62.50 per service per year – a total of €125 for a house using both public water supply and public wastewater services. This charge is capped at €260 per year for a house using both services, and €130 for houses using a single service.

Metered rates

If your household uses the public water supply and the public wastewater service, the metered rate is €3.70 per 1,000 litres – 1 cubic metre. If your household only uses 1 public water service - supply or wastewater services, the rate is €1.85 per 1,000 litres.

If you use less water than the cap levels below, you will be billed for the lower metered usage. As described above, there is a rebate for lower metered usage if you have been paying at capped rates before your meter is installed.

Capped rates

The capped rates are based on usage of just over 43,000 litres per year for a single-adult household and just over 70,000 litres per year for a multi-adult household.

For both services: The maximum rate of domestic water charges for a single-adult household is €160 per year or €40 per quarter for a household that uses both water supply and wastewater services. The maximum rate for a multi-adult household is €260 per year or €65 per quarter.

The table below shows the capped charges for a sample of household types using both water services, including the maximum amount of the quarterly bills that these sample households will receive, starting from April 2015.

Sample capped charges for households using both water services

People in household Maximum annual charge Maximum quarterly bill Annual Water Conservation Grant
1 adult, with or without children €160 €40 €100
2 adults, with or without children €260 €65 €100
More than 2 adults, with or without children €260 €65 €100

For a single service: The maximum rate for a single-adult household is €80 per year or €20 per quarter for a household that uses only 1 water service. The maximum rate for a multi-adult household is €130 per year or €32.50 per quarter.

The table below shows the capped charges for a sample of household types using 1 water service, including the maximum amount of the quarterly bills that these sample households will receive, starting from April 2015.

Sample capped charges for households using a single water service

People in household Maximum annual charge Maximum quarterly bill Annual Water Conservation Grant
1 adult, with or without children €80 €20 €100
2 adults, with or without children €130 €32.50 €100
More than 2 adults, with or without children €130 €32.50 €100

How to apply

New registrations

You can apply in one of 3 ways by 2 February 2015:

  • Online: www.water.ie/apply
  • By phone: LoCall 1890 448 448 or +353 1 707 2824, 8am-8pm, 7 days a week
  • Complete the application form you received in the post and return it in the prepaid envelope provided (note that you no longer need to give PPS Numbers) or
  • Download the new application form (pdf) and send it to the address on the form

Existing registrations

If you have already registered with Irish Water, you do not need to do anything for now. You may wish to amend your details to take account of the fact that all children under the age of 18 will now qualify for the children’s water allowance, regardless of entitlement to Child Benefit. In January 2015, Irish Water will provide an option to amend applications, where necessary.

However, if you have any questions about your registration, you can contact Irish Water on +353-1-707 2824 or Lo Call 1890 448 448, 8am-8pm, 7 days a week.

For all other queries to Irish Water

  • Website: www.water.ie
  • Phone: LoCall 1890 278 278 or +353 1 707 2828, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Minicom: 1890 378 378 (for hearing-impaired customers with their own minicom equipment)
Page updated: 26 November 2014

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.