There are approximately 1.35 million domestic properties connected to public water supplies in Ireland and, following detailed analysis of available data, it was estimated that up to 300,000 of these households may not be metered in the initial metering programme due to either the high cost or the technical difficulty in doing so, Minister Phil Hogan told the Dáil.
Answering questions, he said it was not true to say these households would never be metered.
“I expect these households will be metered in the longer term as shared service connections are replaced and further options relating to metering apartment blocks are evaluated, including internal metering,” said. “Households which are not initially metered will pay for water on an assessed basis.”
Detailed cost estimates on the metering programme have been prepared by my Department, he said but it would not be appropriate to release these estimates in advance of the competitive procurement process.
“I am aware of some estimates of the cost of metering which have been reported in the media in recent months,” he said. “These estimates are speculative and will be shown to be significantly overstated when the procurement of metering is completed. The metering programme will begin before the end of 2012 and will be substantially delivered within a three year period.”
The Government had also decided to assign responsibility for the economic regulation of the water sector to the Commission for Energy Regulation, he said. The primary role of the regulator would be to protect the interests of customers and to ensure a consistent and appropriate level of service is provided to customers.
“My Department is working with the Commission on the development of the regulatory framework for the water sector, and legislation will be prepared to provide the Commission with the necessary powers to fulfil its new role.”
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