Charges for household (domestic) customers

In 2017, legislation was introduced which sets an annual household water allowance and provides for charging of domestic customers who use above the annual allowance. The allowance is set at 1.7 times the average rate of water demand in Ireland, as advised to the Minister by the CRU. The policy encourages households to conserve water and, where possible, identify and fix leaks in their water supply. Excess use charges are intended to promote conservation and personal responsibility for water use and help Ireland meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. On 17 July 2019 the CRU, after carrying out a public consultation and considering the views of stakeholders, approved Irish Water’s excess use charging policy. The excess use charge works as follows:

The household water allowance is 213,000 litres per year. Household usage up to this level will be funded publicly through general taxation. Households that use more than 213,000 litres will be charged for use over this allowance, unless they are entitled to additional allowances or exemptions.

Irish Water will inform domestic customers if they are using water above the annual household allowance (approximately 1 in 10 customers). A ‘Call to Action’ letter will initially issue to those customers that appear to be using above their allowance over a 12-month period. This letter will contain information on fixing leaks and conserving water. Following this letter, an official notice will be issued to customers who have continued to exceed their household allowance in a more recent 12-month period, i.e. Irish Water identifies that the customer has continued to use over the threshold following the ‘Call to Action’ letter. Domestic customers will only receive a charge (for the volume of water used above the threshold) if after receipt of the official notice:

  1. half the household allowance is exceeded over the following 6 months; and
  2. the full household allowance is exceeded over the following 12 months from the date of the notice.

An official notice of apparent excess use will not issue until early 2020. As a result, the first excess use bills, covering the previous 12-month period, will not be issued to customers until 2021.

Additional allowances & exemptions

Customers with larger households (those with more than four permanent occupants) may apply for additional allowances to increase their applicable threshold amount. An allowance of 25,000 litres per annum is available for each additional occupant in a dwelling where four or more occupants reside. For example, a six-person household’s annual allowance will be 263,000 litres.

Where a resident who ordinarily resides in a customer’s dwelling (household) has a medical need, the customer may apply for an exemption from paying charges for water services where the allowance amount has been exceeded.

Application forms will be available on Irish Water’s website or can be posted out by Irish Water upon request. The application form must be completed in full and signed by the customer (the Irish Water registered account holder). Following review of the application, Irish Water will inform the customer in writing if their application has been approved or declined or if further information is required.

Allowance approval letters and exemption approval letters will inform customers of their new household allowance amount. The obligation remains with the customers to advise Irish Water of any subsequent changes to their circumstances.

For further information see the CRU decision paper (CRU/19/086).

Charges for business (non-domestic) customers

Current charges for business customers

Business (or ‘non-domestic’) customers of Irish Water continue to pay charges for water, wastewater and trade effluent services. As part of the Government's reform of Ireland’s water and wastewater services, Irish Water has been responsible for the charging of business customers since 1st January 2014.

As per the CRU’s direction, Irish Water has continued to charge business customers on the same basis as determined under relevant Government policy and applied by local authorities as of 31st of December 2013 until a review of the existing charges could be undertaken by Irish Water. This includes the non-domestic charging arrangements applied to the commercial portion of ‘mixed use’ customers who use water services for both household and business purposes on the same supply.

Irish Water’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework

Charges for business and mixed-use customers were previously determined and charged by 34 local authorities and 10 town councils. This resulted in a wide range of pricing levels, categories, methodologies, and billing arrangements. At present over 500 separate charges exist for business customers across Ireland.

The CRU has requested that Irish Water develop proposals for a new Non-Domestic Tariff Framework. This framework will set out Irish Water’s proposals for how much business and mixed-use customers will be charged for water and wastewater services in the future. This framework aims to establish a harmonised approach to charging for water and wastewater services provided by Irish Water, which will benefit business customers in terms of transparency, simplicity and equity.

The CRU will publicly consult on Irish Water’s proposals prior to any decision being made on the Non-Domestic Tariff Framework. For further information about establishing Irish Water’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework, please read here

Regulating public water and wastewater charges

Under the Water Services (No 2) Act 2013, the CRU approves Irish Water’s Water Charges Plan, which sets out water services charges with regard to new connections, special meter reads, meter testing, and charges for provision of water and wastewater services to non-domestic customers.

As per the Water Services Act 2017, Water charges for domestic customers have been discontinued, however charges will apply in cases where household water usage exceeds the threshold amount (213,000 litres per annum) set out by the Minister (allowances will exist for those with more than 4 household members and exceptions will be made for those with medical need). The Water Charges Plan must make provision for such charges.

In approving the Water Charges Plan, the CRU must consider Irish Water’s most recent investment plan and the costs Irish Water is likely to accrue over the period of the Water Charges Plan. The CRU must also ensure that charges applied are in line with the revenue allowed under Irish Water’s revenue controls.

The CRU reviews charges applied for water services, including supply of drinking water, the treatment and disposal of waste water, and the treatment and disposal of trade effluent. To refer to previous decisions made by the CRU with regard to charges for water services, please refer to the publications section of this website.

Process to approve funding for Irish Water

Step 1.

The Minister prepares a Water Services Policy Statement.  This sets out Government water policy objectives and priorities.

Step 2.

Irish Water prepares a Strategic Funding Plan.  This outlines implementation of the Water Services Policy Statement.

Step 3.

The Minister decides to approve or not approve the Strategic Funding Plan.  If not approved, Irish Water must re-submit the Strategic Funding Plan.

Step 4.

Irish Water prepares a Water Charges Plan.  This sets out the charges for water services and the costs that Irish Water expects to incur in delivering water services.

Step 5.

The CRU conducts its normal revenue control process and decides the level of revenue Irish Water is allowed for the revenue control period.

Step 6.

The Department of Finance allocates the allowed funds to Irish Water through the annual budgetary process.

Where can I learn more?

The CRU also sets charges in the energy sector. Please click here to read more about our work in gas and electricity.