I propose to take Questions Nos. 536 and 542 together.
The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers. Section 21 of the 2013 Act requires Irish Water to charge each customer for the provision by it of water services.
The CER has now issued a determination on the water charges plan submitted to it by Irish Water. Full details and associated documentation are available on the CER website at www.cer.ie/document-detail/CER-Water-Charges-Plan-Consultation/979.
I am fully supportive of all technologies which contribute to the conservation of water. Rainwater harvesting has the potential to contribute to reducing the cost of water services for certain uses as well as benefiting the environment. There are no exemptions from water charges for householders using such systems. However, in line with the CER decision on the water charges plan, where a customer's metered water consumption is shown to be less than the assessed consumption used in the assessed charge, a rebate will be given to the customer after a period of six months.
In line with the approved water charges plan, where a domestic property is not permanently occupied, the owner of the premises will be required to pay a minimum charge for water supply and for wastewater per service. There are no exemptions from these charges for householders.