Household Water Conservation Charge
Households who use large amounts of water may have to pay the Household Water Conservation Charge for the excess water that they use.
The charge will apply to a household’s usage of water above a specified threshold. The threshold takes into account how many people live in the house.
Excess use charges are covered by the Water Services Act 2007-2017, which brought in several changes to water services and charges in Ireland.
When will excess use charges start?
Irish Water will begin writing to households in early 2020 to give them notice that they are using an excessive amount of water. It will also provide information on how to conserve water and deal with leaks. This advance notice is intended to give you time to repair leaks and reduce your household’s water usage before you become liable for charges.
Irish Water has confirmed that the first bills for excess usage will be issued after 1 January 2022.
You can read more on the household water conservation charge in the frequently asked questions on water.ie.
Who is liable to pay excess use charges?
The person who actually gets water and/or wastewater services from Irish Water is liable to pay any charges due. This means that the occupier of the property is liable for the excess use charge.
If you own a property, you are presumed to be the occupier, unless it is proven otherwise.
If you rent a property, you are the occupier.
Property owners have to provide information to Irish Water on the occupiers of the property within 20 days of the start of a tenancy.
Who is a customer of Irish Water?
You are a customer of Irish Water if your property is connected to and is supplied by a public water main for water supply and/or is connected to and uses a public sewer for wastewater removal. The charge is per service, so if you use both public water and wastewater services you will be charged excess use charges per service.
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 are not regarded as a customer of Irish Water and do not have to pay excess use charges.
This table shows who is considered to be a customer of Irish Water and which systems will be subject to excess use charges:
|Water supplier||Wastewater||Customer of Irish Water?|
|Public mains||Public sewer||Yes|
|Public mains||Own treatment (septic tank or wastewater treatment system)||Yes (for a single service)|
|Group water scheme||Public sewer||Yes (for a single service)|
|Group water scheme||Own treatment||No|
|Private well||Public sewer||Yes (for a single service)|
|Private well||Own treatment||No|
What is considered excess usage?
The average amount of water used by a household in Ireland is 125,000 litres per year. An excess charges threshold of 213,000 litres per year has now been set. This is 1.7 times the average amount.
In general, homes with water usage above this ‘threshold amount’ will be regarded as having excessive water usage. Homes with more than 4 residents have an additional ‘allowance amount’ of 25,000 litres per year, above the threshold amount, for each extra person living there.
|Number of residents||Annual water allowance (litres)|
How is my water usage measured?
Your water meter measures 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 mains supply.
If your property does not have a meter and is suspected of excess use, Irish Water may seek to install a meter or calculate your usage using alternative technology. If excess usage is detected unmetered customers will be charged at the cap (currently set at €500 per year for both water and wastewater services) – unless a meter is installed.
Can I view my water consumption online?
Yes, metered households can view their consumption by logging onto their Irish Water online account.
If you are considered to be using an excess amount of water, you can apply to Irish Water for an exemption if:
- There has been a change to the number of residents at the property (see ‘Water allowance’ above) – called an ‘additional occupancy allowance’
- You have a medical need which increases your water usage – called a ‘medical need exemption’
Rates and charges
Irish Water will charge €1.85 per cubic meter (1,000 litres) for usage over the threshold (see ‘Water allowance’ above).
The charge will be capped at €250 per year for water and €250 per year for wastewater services. The maximum charge for excess water usage will therefore be €500 per year.
Fixing of leaks
Homeowners are legally responsible for water pipes and systems inside their dwelling and between the dwelling and the property boundary. This means that you would normally need to pay a plumber to fix a leak, whether it is inside your home or on the external supply pipe between your home and the property boundary. You can use Irish Water’s checklist to see if you have any internal leaks.
Under the First Fix Free Scheme, Irish Water will contact you by post if your water meter indicates that there may be a leak on your external supply pipe. If you are eligible for the scheme (see below) Irish Water will offer you a free investigation on this pipe and free repair of identified leaks. Generally, this will involve fully replacing the pipe from the meter to a point as close to the dwelling as possible.
Who is eligible for the First Fix Scheme?
The First Fix Free Scheme is available to domestic customers who are registered with Irish water and have:
- A water meter installed
- A confirmed leak on the external supply pipe
- A working and accessible inside stop valve
Contact details for Irish Water
To register with Irish Water
- Online: water.ie/mywater/faces/registration
- By phone: LoCall 1890 448 448 or 01 707 2824, 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5.30pm Saturday
For queries to Irish Water about water supply, metering or leaks
- Website: water.ie
- Phone: LoCall 1890 278 278 or 01 707 2828, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Minicom: 1890 378 378 (for hearing-impaired customers with their own minicom equipment)
Making a complaint
If you have a complaint about:
- Household billing or a general complaint, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Metering or operations, you can email email@example.com
Section 8 of the Water Services Act 2014 provides for the CRU to operate a statutory dispute resolution service to handle unresolved complaints from customers of Irish Water. If you wish to use this service, you must:
- Have been a registered Irish Water customer at the time to which the complaint relates
- Have already made your complaint to Irish Water in writing
- Have completed Irish Water's complaints process and received a final decision in writing
The CRU will issue its decision on the complaint to Irish Water. It can require Irish Water to pay a refund or compensation. It may also require Irish Water to comply with its decision in respect of other customers affected by the same issue.
Complaints about water quality
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is the economic regulator of Irish Water. The CRU does not handle complaints about water quality. If you have a complaint about water quality that has not been resolved by Irish Water, you should refer it to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is the environmental regulator of Irish Water.