Galway’s rural households have been gifted a belated Christmas present with a move to effectively abolish group water scheme charges from the beginning of this year.
Negotiations between the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the National Federation of Group Water Schemes reached an agreement in mid-December to increase subsidies to group water schemes by 65%.
The subsidy has gone from €140 per household on a scheme with a private water source to €231. On schemes which draw water from public sources the subsidy has jumped from €70 to €115.
Schemes will now have to allocate a ‘free allowance’ to each household of 160m3 before levying any charge.
Some larger water scheme members with greater recoupable expenses over the last 18 months will also be due a refund. The changes follow the recommendation of the Joint Oireachtas Committee last April that rural water householders be treated with “equity and fairness” compared to Irish Water customers who have been granted refunds for charges collected under the terms of the Water Services Act (2017).
They affect the 144 schemes in Galway monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – half sourced from private water sources. A further 150 schemes across the county are so small they are not monitored or do not apply for subsidies to Galway County Council.
“The situation is now very clear as and from January 1 – there will be no charges on the domestic end and no standing charge by any name up to 160m3 per household, which is a very high allocation,” explained federation spokesman Brian McDonald.
“Because of metering, we know that the average usage on a group water scheme is 115m3 per household – so if they go above that they have a major leak or a household of teenagers spending way too much time in the shower.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.