Thursday, 8 July 2010
Question 4: To ask the Minister for the Environment; Heritage and Local Government the progress made in roll out of domestic water meters; when he expects a nationwide meter installation campaign to be completed; and if will make statement on matter. [30804/10]
Following a decision by the Government, my Department is finalising proposals for the installation of water meters in households served by public water supplies. These proposals will give effect to the commitment in the renewed programme for Government to introduce charging for domestic water in a way that is fair, significantly reduces waste and is easily applied. I expect to bring these proposals to the Government in the coming weeks. The installation of water meters in households connected to public supplies will encourage householders to conserve water and will result in savings in the significant operational costs faced by local authorities in providing water and waste water services. This will complement the significant increases in investment on water conservation measures in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-12 that I announced earlier this year.
The primary objectives of the proposed investment are to promote more sustainable water consumption by households, to reduce water loss in the distribution networks to an economic level and to address unacceptably high levels of unaccounted for water in some locations. I expect the metering programme to be under way next year. I will provide further detail on these matters following their consideration and approval by Government.
I knew it was upsetting the Acting Chairman. How long does the Minister expect the roll-out of the domestic water metering programme to take? What will be the cost of providing water meters on behalf of the taxpayer through the local authority system? Is the Minister categorically stating there will be no flat charge for water introduced by this Government?
I am on record as stating there will be no flat charge and it will be based on metering. I can confirm that to the House, and I have said so on a number of occasions. Quite simply, a flat charge would defeat the purpose. Installing meters means people see it as fair. We can get greater political buy-in and if it is done on a free allocation basis, people will see it as a means of conserving water. It works and this is the whole point of it. We can quickly determine if there are leaks, many of which occur from the footpath to the household. We have discussed this matter at length.
The issue is that I have not yet gone to Government. It would be premature to provide timelines and costs. This can be done and will be labour-intensive. It can be done within two years. Having not gone to Government, I am not in a position to give further details.