The Programme for Government and the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU, the IMF and the ECB provide for the introduction of domestic water charges. The current position is that domestic water charges will not commence before 2014, and the Government is currently reviewing the timeline for charges in consultation with the programme partners. The Government considers that charging 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. 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 has also decided to assign responsibility for the economic regulation of the water sector, including the setting of charges, to the Commission for Energy Regulation. The primary role of the regulator will be to protect the interests of customers and to ensure a consistent and appropriate level of service is provided to them. An appropriate approach to charging those customers who may not be metered when charges are introduced will be put in place. The approach to charges for both metered and unmetered properties will be included in a public consultation that will take place as part of the regulatory process.