The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013 provides Irish Water with the power to charge for water services. The Act also provides that the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will be responsible for the economic regulation of Irish water and the charges to be levied by Irish Water will be subject to the approval of the CER. The CER has already undertaken public consultations on the development of the economic regulatory framework for water services and will be undertaking further consultations during 2014. Water charges will not commence until 1 October 2014 and the first bills will be issued by Irish Water to households from January 2015.
Group Water Schemes that are supplied by way of a connection to the public water supply network will now become customers of Irish Water, having previously been customers of the relevant local authority. Group Water Schemes that have their own water sources will not be customers of Irish Water and will continue to operate as before.
My Department will remain responsible for the overall policy and funding, where appropriate, of the non-public water sector, including the group water sector. Over the past decade, substantial improvements have been made in the group water sector, reflected in improved infrastructure and management and leading to greater compliance with drinking water standards. This has been accomplished through a partnership approach between my Department, the local authorities and the group water sector itself, with the important involvement of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes. The co-operative approach will be maintained as the reform of water services provision is progressed.