Charging penalties for high water usage: An Opinion
Irish water is currently considering bringing in new penalties designed to encourage water conservation in the coming year.
According to the Irish times “Irish Water wants to charge €1.85 for every 1,000 litres used above a threshold of 213,000 litres per year, with the charge capped at €250. A similar charge for wastewater services is proposed, again with a cap of €250. A residence that uses both fresh water, and wastewater, services would be liable for a charge of up to €500.”
The commission for regulation of utilities is set to make a decision on the proposed reform soon. This reform would put 70’000 homes in Ireland at risk of a charge of 500 euro. The proposed system would work on the basis of water metres in people’s homes.
There are more than a few problems that Irish water would encounter if executing this plan however. Firstly, there are only water metres installed in around 60 percent of Irish households. These were mostly installed during the previous imposition of water charges. Irish water however have stated that they will use a combination of district metres and onsite investigation to chart unmetered homes.
Another issue is whether or not houses which suffer leaks in their municipal pipes will incur unjust penalties due to the council’s failure to maintain municipal water pipes. Lastly, as the ill-fated imposition of the last water charges proved, the Irish public are very unwilling to pay for a resource which was traditionally provided to them for free.
While I am not convinced of the pragmatism of this new initiative, I do agree with the sentiment of it. Yes, water is a human right , but that does not preclude everyone from contributing towards its provision or at the very least being penalised for heavily wasting it.
Water is becoming scarcer throughout the world and every country must do their bit to conserve it. For both fiscal reasons for the state and for environmental reasons there should be a mechanism by which people are incentivised not to waste water.
The population of Ireland are privileged to have a steady supply of good quality water and asserting that we should not do anything to contribute towards it is in effect denying that privilege.
I don’t know whether this initiative will come to fruition or not but something with the same sentiment should be created in the near future.