‘Farmers having to pay twice for water’

A Ballyforan farmer has spoken out over having to “pay twice” for water since the introduction of domestic water charges earlier this year.

Patrick Concannon said that farmers like himself had been paying for water supply for many years, but since the advent of Irish Water, they have had to pay twice, without receiving an additional supply.

Farmers pay their charges to the company Veolia, he explained, but now receive bills from Irish Water also. “Currently, there is a €25 standing charge per quarter from Veolia,” said Mr Concannon. “They gave a free allowance to domestic and farm users of 227 cubic litres. For every cubic litre that you use outside that, you pay €1.22. “That was the system that was in place.”

He said that, under the Irish Water system, his family – two adults and three children – also had to pay €128 a year to the State utility. Mr Concannon added: “And the neighbouring family next door, who don’t farm, pay €128 to Irish Water and can use an unlimited amount of water.” Following an outcry against the introduction of water charges, Irish Water have capped charges at a maximum yearly amount until the end of 2018.

Mr Concannon added: “My point to Irish Water is: ‘I have paid you €128; what am I receiving?’ “I am receiving absolutely nothing because I have always paid Veolia for the privilege of the water meter and my water. I am paying twice for the same water.”

Irish Water’s response

Irish Water cannot comment on specific customer queries. However, customers who use the water services for both domestic and non-domestic purposes receive separate bills for domestic use from Irish Water and non-domestic use from their Local Authority.

The domestic allowance is an annual quantity of water above which charges for non-domestic use of water services apply. They were previously set by a local authority and have been adopted by Irish Water.

Their purpose was to ensure that no domestic usage was charged for, so they were usually set above what would be considered normal domestic use.

The domestic allowances are being retained as the quantity above which non-domestic use is charged for. Mixed use customers with a water meter have to date been charged for usage above the domestic allowance allocated to them.

They may also have been charged a standing charge. If there was no water meter, the customer’s non-domestic use was assessed.

Since January 1, Irish Water adopted the charges previously set by local authorities and mixed-use customers have been billed by their local authority on behalf of Irish Water.