Water charges for businesses

Introduction

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 was due to be introduced by Irish Water on 1 May 2020, but this has been postponed due to COVID-19, see details below in ‘Upcoming 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.

Unmetered accounts

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.

Metered accounts

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.

Upcoming 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 was due to start on 1 May 2020, but it was postponed due to COVID-19. In the meantime, Irish Water is using the previous water charge rates of each local authority.

Where to apply

Irish Water

Business Accounts

P.O. Box 448,
South City Delivery Office,
Cork City,
Cork

Opening Hours: Mon - Fri 9am - 5.30pm
Tel: +353 1 707 2827
Locall: 1850 778 778

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

Custom House
Dublin 1
D01 W6X0
Ireland

Tel: (01) 888 2000
Locall: 1890 202 021
Page edited: 19 October 2020