I propose to take Questions Nos. 487 and 495 together.
The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has therefore 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 domestic water metering programme and for the collection of water charges from households from 2014.
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. As the metering programme will still be underway in 2014, an appropriate approach to charges for both metered and unmetered properties will need to be put in place before then; this will be the subject of a public consultation process this year as part of the regulatory process.