The programme for Government and the memorandum of understanding with the EU, IMF and ECB provide for the introduction of domestic water charges and the establishment of a new State-owned water utility. The Government considers that charging for water based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. International evidence has shown that where meters have been installed, significant reductions have been achieved in the level of consumption, and this is also borne out by the water savings achieved with metering in the group water sector.
The Government has also decided that Irish Water, a new State-owned water company to be established as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann group, will be responsible for the metering programme. The Government recently approved the preparation of legislation to assign the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake the metering programme. The objective is to have the Bill enacted by the end of this year. Pending the enactment of the legislation, my Department will work with local authorities to progress aspects of the metering programme, including the carrying out of surveys of domestic connections. It will also progress the tender documentation in parallel for elements of the meter infrastructure.