I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 and 490 together.
The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to the introduction of water charges based on usage above a free allowance. 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 that are 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. I understand that a comprehensive water conservation programme will be undertaken by Irish Water and will cover the full spectrum of measures including customer awareness and education campaigns about water conservation.
I am fully supportive of technologies which contribute to the conservation of water. Rainwater harvesting has the potential to benefit the environment and contribute to reducing the cost of water services for certain uses. However, the introduction of a grants scheme for any purpose must be managed within current budgetary constraints and, in so far as the funds administered by my Department are concerned, there are currently no plans to introduce a scheme for the installation of rainwater harvesting systems.