Household Water Conservation Charge

Introduction

Irish Water is Ireland’s national water utility. It is responsible for excess use charges for homes connected to a public water supply or to public wastewater services.

Excess use charges apply to a household’s usage of water above a specified threshold. This helps promote water conservation.

Excess use charges are covered by the Water Services Act 2007-2017, which brought in several changes to water services and charges in Ireland. You can read more about the Household Water Conservation Charge on water.ie.

When will excess use charges start?

Irish Water will begin writing to some customers in the autumn of 2019. This will give notice that you may be using an excessive amount of water and 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.

The start date has not yet been set for excess use charges, but this should be clarified by the end of 2019. However it has been established that the first bills for excess usage can only be issued after 1 January 2021.

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:

Who is a customer of Irish Water
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.

Water allowance

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)
0-4 213,000
5 238,000
6 263,000
7 288,000
8 313,000
9 338,000
10 363,000
11 388,000
12 413,000

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.

Exemptions

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

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:

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.

Page edited: 26 July 2019