Water charges for group schemes
Group water schemes operate in rural areas, outside the scope of urban public mains systems. They can be public or private, depending on whether the water comes from the public mains or a private source such as a lake, river, well or spring.
All group schemes are fitted with a water meter so the local authority can monitor the amount of water they use. Each household in the scheme gets a domestic allowance which is set by the local authority. If they use more than this, the group scheme is charged as a whole, as the meter monitors the water use of the whole scheme. The meter is checked on a quarterly basis and the allowances for domestic users are deducted. The remainder is charged at a set rate per cubic metre. This rate varies from one local authority to another.
Group scheme members are entitled to a subsidy from the local authority. The members of the scheme must meet any additional costs, such as filtration systems and disinfection.
Commercial users in group water schemes
Commercial premises (like farms or other rural businesses) that are members of group schemes are treated differently from private homes. If they use water for both commercial and domestic purposes, they get an allowance to cover their domestic water usage. This means they only pay for the water they use for their business.
In most cases, the business will have a meter installed to monitor their water usage. The standard domestic allowance is then subtracted from the total amount of water used to find out how much the business has to pay.
Alternatively, a fixed rate could be agreed and the business owner pays this amount, regardless of how much water they use.
Charges for public group water schemes
As a member of a public group scheme, you get your water from the public mains system. If you are a domestic user, you do not have to pay water charges.
Commercial users like farms or businesses have to pay for the water they use in the running of their businesses. Their water use is monitored and the local authority charges them the set commercial rate.
Charges for private group water schemes
Domestic users have to pay for water if they are in a private group scheme, where water comes from a private source such as a well or lake. Local authorities provide a subsidy for each house in a private group scheme just as they do for public scheme members. However, the subsidy for a private group scheme is higher to reflect the increased costs associated with a private water supply, such as filtration and disinfection costs.
Commercial water users who are members of a private scheme can either have a meter fixed to their premises to monitor their water usage or they can agree a fixed rate with other group members.
Paying water charges
Group water schemes are responsible for monitoring themselves. Members of group schemes who do not pay their share of the maintenance costs must be dealt with by the group and its trustees. The local authority cannot get involved as it has no authority over the scheme. 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, you must discuss any difficulties regarding payment with the trustees of the group.
Where to apply
For information about the current water charges in your area, contact your local authority or group water scheme directly.