Sustainable User Pays Funding Model for Water Must Be Agreed

Sep 12, 2016

There has been increased media speculation about the opposition proposal of a permanent end to water charges , proposing that the water system be paid for through general taxation. Due to the current Government’s reliance on the opposition to support the Finance Bill, the influence such a proposal could have is concerning.

It was agreed, in order to facilitate the formation of the Partnership Government to suspend water charges for nine months while establishing an expert commission to examine the future of charges. Chambers Ireland takes the view that water charges are a necessity and that domestic water charges must be a part of the funding model for solving the water infrastructure problems Ireland currently faces. The rise in population, the growth of new industries and the lack of investment over the years have meant that the existing water infrastructure is desperately in need of upgrading and replacement. High leakage rates, varying water quality standards and disruptions to water supply are all issues which must be addressed and Ireland’s water infrastructure needs a major programme of investment to address these issues. We must have a long term, sustainable model for the funding required to update infrastructure and improve and maintain the quality of water across the country.

The capacity of Ireland’s water infrastructure to meet the daily water requirements of both businesses and domestic households is of immense importance for our ability to create sustainable economic growth and attract further investment. Investments are also required to ensure that Ireland can meet its obligations under the Wastewater Directive and that any bottlenecks in wastewater treatment capacity are eased. The improvements required to facilitate this can only be achieved through large-scale capital investments, which will require increased investment in the water infrastructure. The state cannot currently afford to fund an infrastructure project of this scale without users paying a fair price for the service. To fund water infrastructure from general taxation would mean inevitable delays in improving infrastructure to the level needed, as well as diverting funding away other necessary and equally important infrastructure projects.

Chambers Ireland wishes to see the current suspension of charges last no longer than the proposed 9 months and we would hope for the timely completion recommendations of the Expert Commission on the Funding of Domestic Water Services, before the due date of 1st December 2016. We cannot allow for the uncertainty surrounding the future of domestic water charges to linger and Government must now work to regain the confidence of customers of Irish Water.

Chambers Ireland pre-Budget 2017 Submission asks for:

  • A sustainable funding model for Irish Water must be agreed and implemented as soon as possible to allow for urgent investment in our water network.
  • This funding model must include appropriate charges for both domestic as well as non-domestic users. Business and households must pay their fair share.
  • In order to support resource sustainability and the principle of equity, water consumption levels must be a factor in the calculation of any water charges.

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