Government should fast track rollout of water metering – CIF

The CIF has called on the Government to ensure that fair and balanced water charges apply from the start of the new scheme by fast tracking the installation of water meters this year.  According to the Federation this programme could help ensure a more balanced payment process while simultaneously removing people from the live register.

This follows criticism by the European Commission on the progress of the water metering programme.  The latest staff paper produced by the Commission is quoted as saying, “Concrete steps have been taken slowly.  Among other things, progress towards the installation of water meters has lagged.

The report also says, “The full roll out of meters is likely to take years and extend well beyond the scheduled date for the introduction of water charges, which will create additional difficulties regarding the pricing mechanism.”

According to the CIF one way around these problems would be to speed up the installation of water meters.  “The Government is now facing criticism at home and abroad about the way the water metering programme is being established,” said CIF Director General Tom Parlon.  “Domestic critics and the European Commission have already been highlighting problems with the way the rollout of the new water charges is being handled, with the initial unfair charges and the slow implementation of the programme being highlighted.

“One way around these difficulties would be for the Government to fast track the installation of water meters all over the country.  Under the current timeline it will take three years for the water meters to be installed on all households, while only 500,000 are expected to be in place by summer 2014.  Those timelines could be greatly reduced if a fast track programme was introduced.

“With the current economic conditions the question often comes back to how such a system would be paid for.  Fast tracking the water installation programme could actually help pay for itself.  Speeding up this process would provide a strong source of employment for construction workers, helping to reduce the number of people on the live register.

“Taking one single individual off the register would save at least €9,776 per annum.  When you then factor in the additional income tax and PRSI revenue the Exchequer would receive from this person then it has benefits on both sides the equation.

“It will also ensure that fair payments are put in place from the beginning of the new system.  So that any water being used is paid for by those who are using it.  Having the water meters in place will prevent thousands of households relying on unfair estimates for their water charges, a system which could lead to severe criticism of the new scheme.  Water metering brings transparency to the process so it is in the Government’s interests to get these meters installed as soon as possible.

“We hope that the Government will take a serious look at this suggestion and we will be writing to the Minister and others involved in this process to encourage them to fast track the metering system,” Mr. Parlon concluded.