Water charges for businesses
Non-domestic water users must pay for the water they use. These charges differ depending on whether the water supply comes from a group water scheme or the public water system. A new system of charges has been approved and came into effect on 1 October 2021, see details below in ‘Recent changes to non-domestic water charges’.
Commercial water charges
All commercial organisations and non-domestic customers must pay water charges if water is being supplied for their use. Examples of non-domestic customers includes hospitals, health centres, schools and clubs.
There are two types of accounts for commercial water charges, metered and unmetered.
This flat-rate charge is paid to Irish Water. The rate is calculated by estimating how much water (and wastewater) your business uses. The volume of water and wastewater will differ, depending on the type of business and the number of employees. For example, a newsagent will be charged less than a hairdresser because it uses less water. There is no minimum charge set down in legislation. The rates were previously set by each local authority and reviewed each year.
A metered account involves a meter being fitted to monitor commercial water usage. Commercial metered accounts are subject to a standing charge for water and wastewater for the meter itself. The standing charge is usually paid on a quarterly basis.
A domestic allowance is available where the water supply is used jointly for domestic and commercial use. The domestic allowance can vary between local authorities.
Businesses in group water schemes
Commercial premises (like farms or other rural businesses) that are members of group water schemes have to pay for the water they use for running their businesses. They get a standard domestic allowance to cover their domestic water usage. In most cases, this usage is monitored by a water meter. The standard domestic allowance is deducted from the total usage to determine how much water was used by the business.
If the business owner is in a public group water scheme, the local authority will charge the business according to their usage at the set commercial rate. If the business owner is in a private group water scheme, the group may charge them according to their usage. Alternatively they can agree a fixed rate with other group members.
Paying water charges
All commercial premises must pay their water charges, unless a personal hardship waiver applies. If you do not pay, Irish Water can take you to the District Court to recover the charges from you. Alternatively, it can disconnect or restrict your water supply. However, this is rarely done because of implications for health and safety.
Payments are now collected by Irish Water (previously the local authorities). You can pay your water charges bill in a number of ways.
Group water schemes are responsible for monitoring themselves. Commercial members of group schemes who do not pay their share of the maintenance costs must be dealt with by the group and its trustees. It is up to the members and trustees of group schemes to decide who should pay what and the grounds on which charges can be waived or reduced.
If you are in a private group scheme and you are finding it difficult to make your payments, you should discuss this with the trustees of the group.
Recent changes to non-domestic water charges
In 2019, Irish Water agreed a new Non-Domestic Tariff Framework with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). This framework standardises non-domestic water charges across local authorities and town councils, meaning businesses will pay the same amount for their water nationwide. This new system of charges have applied since 1 October 2021.
Where to apply