Right2Water campaigns tells water committee charges for excessive water use would be a waste of taxpayers' money

The Right2Water campaign attended the Oireachtas committee today where the group said applying a charge for excessive water usage would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

David Gibney, spokesperson for Right2Water said if the committee were to pursue households for excessive water usage it would cost almost €300 million but the maximum return would be €30 million if you apply the criteria recommended by the Expert Commission on Domestic Public Water Services.’

Mr Gibney pointed out that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Irish people are profligate with their water. In fact, he pointed out to the committee that Ireland has among the highest amount of available water in the EU and uses less water than almost any other country in the developed world.

“We have 50 times more water available to us than Israel, and yet we use 25 percent less water than the UK – where they’ve had water charges in place since 1989,” said Mr Gibney.

He added that there was already provision for dealing with excessive water usage through the Water Services Act 2007.

Steve Fitzpatrick, who also answered questions at the committee on behalf of Right2Water highlighted the fact that certain politicians and the government are determined to penalise domestic citizens while ignoring the problem of corporations using excessive amounts of water.

After the Committee hearing, Mr Fitzpatrick said, “It’s clear some parties want to ignore the democratic will of the public where two thirds of the population want water charges scrapped. They are using a false argument about excessive domestic usage to vindicate pushing through their water privatisation agenda without any democratic mandate.”

He added, “If politicians are serious about implementing the ‘polluter pays’ principle, it is our view that the huge industrial wastage of water through distilleries, the pollution of rivers by mega farmers, the free water obtained from our springs by multinational companies like Britvic, and the almost half of all companies who are currently refusing to pay commercial water charges should be addressed.”

Mr Gibney concluded, “Right2Water does not believe that a charge for excessive water usage on domestic households makes sense. The real waste is in the 41 percent of water that is leaked before it gets to your tap – of which only 3 percent is on the household side.

“Yet, instead of investing in upgrading the infrastructure and fixing the leaks, some political parties are persistent in pursuing a fictional line about Irish families wasting water despite their own expert commission saying, ‘The expert commission has not seen any evidence that Ireland has particularly high levels of domestic water usage’, and indeed, Irish people are at the ‘lower end of the spectrum’ when it comes to comparing water usage to other European countries.”

The Right2Water campaign is calling on the two thirds of TD’s elected to the Dail on a mandate for scrapping water charges to quit playing games, stand by their electoral promises and end water charges before they waste any more taxpayers’ money.