Metering: The Fairest Way of Paying for Water
Kathleen McTiernan, Administrative Officer, Water Services, talks about the new metering system for water charges, and gives a progress report on the council's Rural Water Programme.
- Kathleen McTiernan
Can you outline the background to the new water metering system?The water metering project is being undertaken as part of the Government’s ‘Water Services Pricing Policy.’, and Sligo was chosen as a pilot county for the delivery of the new policy. The main benefit of water metering is that it will ensure that consumers will enjoy the benefit of a fair and equitable charging system, in that they will only pay for water which they consume. Under the old system, charges were levied irrespective of usage. Sligo County Council has delivered the new water metering programme for its nondomestic (business and farming) customers. As the new system is based on consumption, it is considered more equitable than the old annual charge which was levied irrespective of usage.
How is the concession applied?The domestic allowance applies in respect of ‘occupied’ houses which are on the same connection as a non-domestic supply, e.g. house/land, commercial/domestic, B & B or similar categories. In cases where the same connection serves a business premises and an occupied house, a domestic allowance of 50,000 gallons a year will be allowed. A rate of E1.13 per cubic metre will apply above that limit.
The problem of water wastage should also be addressed by the new system.We expect that water metering will be of major assistance to Sligo Local Authorities in our efforts to identify leaks and conserve water. By and large people realise that water is a scarce resource and are conscious of using it sparingly. Now that people are paying for consumption, I think they will be even more conscious of the necessity to conserve water. Customers are advised to check all of the supply pipes from the public watermains as a matter of urgency if they have not already done so. Any leakage between the public watermain and the house, farm, etc could result in substantial additional payments if remedial action is not taken.
We have an excellent leaflet on ‘Water Efficiency Actions’ which provides very useful tips on conserving water on the business or farm, and also outlines ways on availing of alternative sources of water. For instance, rain collected from the roofs of farm buildings can be re-used for many activities, including washing down yards and stock-watering. I would urge anyone in making their farm or business more ‘water efficient’ to pick up a copy of this leaflet, or to access it on the Council’s website. I should point out that leaks on the public watermains are the responsibility of Sligo County Council. If you happen to notice a leak, please contact our Water Services Section at St. Anne’s Place, Sligo - Tel. No. (071) 9111376
How does the Council propose delivering a quality water supply to our group schemes?The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government allocated a block grant allocation of E5.25M to Sligo County Council in 2006. This enables the Council to continue the delivery of its comprehensive rural water programme, with the funding being used to provide small public water and sewerage schemes, provide grant aid towards the construction of new group schemes and enable the takeover/upgrading of some existing group water schemes.
Who are the key players in terms of delivering this Programme?The Chairman of our Rural Water Monitoring Committee, Councillor Gerry Murray, recently remarked on the excellent working relationship between the various group schemes, Sligo County Council, the Department of the Environment and the National Federation of Group Water Schemes. ‘We are all working towards a common objective: the delivery of a good quality water supply that meets the required EU standards.’
How many households will benefit from the current Group Scheme Programme?Two ‘bundles’ of contracts were signed in 2005 - work on the provision of the new treatment plants was carried out by Treatment Services Limited, Kilkenny. The current programme of works has seen eleven Private Group Schemes throughout the county benefiting from the construction of new treatment plants delivering a quality water supply that meets EU standards. We are currently installing meters on the group schemes, and are also progressing our programme of critical mains replacement. Work has been completed on the provision of the new treatment plants and they were officially opened by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the 20th July, 2006, which was a very big day for the people in the private group scheme sector. Quality water is now being delivered to approximately 2000 households throughout the county.
With our very busy programme of work in terms of water metering and our rural water programme, it promises to be a hectic 2007 in the Council’s Water Services Department.
© Sligo County Council,
County Hall, Riverside,
Sligo, Co. Sligo.