Mayo councillor wants non-domestic water charge changes deferred

IRISH Water should be compelled to appear before an Oireachtas committee, with any increases in charges imposed on non-domestic customers deferred until they do so.

That was the proposal at a meeting of Mayo County Council where elected members are not happy after the company declined an invitation to make a presentation on a new charging system approved by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, to come into effect from October 1.

In Mayo, there are approximately 10,000 non-domestic users/connections. As part of the new non-domestic tariff framework (NDTFR), Irish Water say that almost half of the connections in the county will see a decrease in their annual bill. For those that will incur an increase in their bill, the average increase is €279. Customers seeing an increase greater than €250 will see it spread out over three years.

However, having invited the company to a meeting, Councillor Damien Ryan took 'great exception' to them not coming to answer questions.

The average increase customers face was €279 but he could cite examples where it was multiples of that, he told the monthly council meeting. He knew of one business where their bill was rising from €62,000 to €84,000.

A farmer with a fragmented farm face a 100% increase as they have a number of meters, which was completely at variance to what the company told councillors.

Councillor Ryan had a proposal to make: that Irish Water be compelled to appear before an Oireachtas committee that has responsibility over that and that the minister and government immediately defer indefinitely the proposed increase by the regulator until that comes to pass.

Irish Water, he continued, is supposed to be investing in the network, but it was crumbling around the county.

He cited the case of a school that has to invest €30,000 in a wastewater treatment plant to service the school for this year even though the network and plant is built in the village, but Irish Water won't switch it on.

Councillor Gerry Murray branded Irish Water as 'the most dysfunctional public utility in Europe'. They should be looking at delegating water and sanitation back to the local authorities, he suggested.

Highlighting issues in his area, Councillor Gerry Coyle said the treatment plant in Belmullet was having problems because of storm water entering it. It was ridiculous when so much money was spent and it wasn't right.

The affect on farmers was raised by Councillor Sean Carey. He knew one farmer who has four meters and his costs are going up 110%.