Anger over water bill errors fiasco

Anti-water charge protestors in Eyre Square.

Irish Water has billed homes in County Galway for water charges even though they are on private group water schemes.

The utility has confirmed that hundreds of people in the county have been erroneously sent water charges bills in the past year.

The households who have been billed include hundreds on 17 group water schemes across the county, including more than 400 in Annaghdown.

Last August, Irish Water said the ‘taking in charge’ of 17 schemes across Galway was “imminent”.

But at a meeting with Galway politicians and local authority officials on Friday, Irish Water representatives confirmed that the 17 schemes haven’t yet been taken over. And the company gave no indication when the schemes would be taken over.

Irish Water said that households on these schemes have been sent bills even though they are not liable for Irish Water charges for water.

One of the largest schemes affected is Annaghdown Group Water Scheme, which serves 425 households.

“Under no circumstances should people on the Annaghdown scheme, or the 16 other schemes, pay water charges to Irish Water. The company has sent bills to people on the Annaghdown scheme but it hasn’t taken it in charge and so it was wrong to do so. What I’m telling people clearly is: do not pay this bill,” said County Councillor Mary Hoade, a Fianna Fáil general election candidate in Galway West.

Cllr Hoade said Irish Water held a briefing with local authority members last Friday in which they confirm they were examining whether to put forward just one of the 17 schemes for a pilot and that no date is available for the taking in charge.

“Galway County Council has everything ready for the scheme to be taken over. Any residents on the Annaghdown Scheme now need to be made aware that they are not part of Irish Water, and while they are receiving bills from Irish Water, those bills should not be paid,” added Cllr Hoade.