Harold Kingston, IFA Environment & Rural Affairs Chairman has welcomed the clear statement by Environment Minister Phil Hogan that he will not impose any additional water charges on rural dwellers that provide their own water supply or use water from group water schemes.
Speaking following the announcement of the establishment of Irish Water Harold Kingston said, “IFA recognises the importance of a good quality water supply for the future competitiveness and growth of the agri-food sector. Rural dwellers have, for a long number of years paid for and treated their own water supply, whether through a co-operative group water scheme or thought the provision of domestic wells. It is welcomed that Minister Hogan recognises this substantial investment by people living in the countryside and has not imposed additional charges.”
The Association has called for a review of the standing charges currently imposed by County Councils. “The current annual standing charges vary widely, from €60 in County Wicklow to €175 in County Donegal and are much higher than the proposed €40 charge which Irish Water will impose. These excessive charges must be immediately reviewed and reduced.”
IFA, as part of a comprehensive submission to the Department of Environment has also called for a reduction in the cost of water to farmers and other users, who already pay for water, as the cost of supplying the service should be spread equally over a larger number of users of public water supply. According to the IFA, Cost efficiencies must also be delivered through centralised administration and service delivery
The IFA is also seeking the introduction of leakage incentive targets, to link future water infrastructure investment by Government to a reduction in water leakage, the introduction of water conservation incentives, to encourage homeowners and farmers to reduce water bills and consumption by harvesting water for use at a later stage.