Provisions for domestic water charges was removed in 1997. Irish Water was established at present under the Water Services Act. A system of water meeting was to be introduced. The Commission for Energy Regulation made the scheme of water charges. The proposals proved very controversial and have been largely abandoned.
Persons who have their own water source from their own property or an adjoining property do not pay charges.
Group water schemes are prominent in rural areas. Some are maintained by public authorities while other are private. Private water schemes are dealt with by the trustees or management under contract or other private legal arrangement.
Group water schemes are typically formed by a number of households coming together to provide their own common supply. The group elects the trustee to act for its members in dealing with local authority. Water supply may be from public source or from a private source. In the case of public support, the necessary proprietary rights will be required. The local authorities provide subsidies.
Members of private group scheme must usually pay for domestic water. In this instance, the payments are designed to maintain and operate the scheme.
Group scheme uses may be fitted with water meters to determine usage. Under publicly financed schemes, each house may obtain a domestic allowance in the above amount. If this has exceeded the group scheme as charged, local authorities will monitor water quarterly charging for the amount above the domestic allowance at a cubic basis.
Group scheme members may be entitled to a subsidy from the local authority. The subsidy will not cover all costs and members may be obliged meet additional costs such as filtration and disinfection.
Where a commercial premises are members of group schemes they obtain a domestic allowance if there is a domestic element. They will usually have a water meter. Alternatively a fixed rate may be applicable depending on the circumstances.
Domestic users of private water schemes where the water comes from a private source are subject to charges to meet costs. Local authority may provide a subsidy in a private scheme.
Local authorities may take over schemes. They require technical details of the scheme maps and proprietary rights or waivers allowing it to be taken over.
There is provision from grants to facilitate water connection. If a house is more than seven years old, and not connected to a public or a group scheme, a grant up to €2,000 or 75 percent of the costs may be payable to provide new water supply or upgrade an existing supply, proposal costs must be more than €635.
Where local authority inspection is required. Grants may be available for drilling of new wells, pumping, filtration and disinfection.
A grant may be available to assist a group water scheme. A committee must be formed proposing the scheme. The local authority must approve it.
The amount of the grant will depend on the location. Position varies from local authority.
The grant may cover up to 85 percent of the costs with limit of €6475 per house. The member must cover the balance.
An annual subsidy may be available for running costs. Subsidy is up to 100 percent of qualifying expenditure subject to limits. €70 free tariffs from the local authority source, €140 free tariffs from the private source.
Local authority and private group scheme charges for water may be recovered as a contract debt. Fixed charges will generally be billed in advance into instalments at six monthly interval. Where the charges aren’t paid for two months local authority may discontinue the water supply.
The costs of discontinuation and reconnection are to the account of the premises holder.
Local authorities may allow a waiver in cases of exceptional hardship.
The European Communities (Drinking Water) Regulation gives effect to the EU drinking water directive. It establishes water quality standards for human consumption. A number of contaminants must be tested and vouched.
If the water quality of the private scheme serving 50 or more persons falls below EU standards, the EU local authority must contact the groups representing it within 14 days of receiving the test. An action program must be put in place to bring the scheme up to the necessary standard.
The program must be prepared in consultation with the local authority and fit with the relevant strategic role water plan in the area. If the program is not produced within two months, it is an offense subject to prosecution in the district court. All water schemes, public and private are obliged to meet full water quality standards by 2004. Compliance standards were led or made uncertain of the substances and led where to be met by 2009 and 2014 respectively.
The local authority primarily monitors water standards. They monitor group water scheme. They may serve notices where there is a risk to human health restricting supply. They may issue a boil water notice. The HSE may monitor water supplies to ensure the water meets the public health standard. The Environment Protection Agency produces an annual report on drinking water.
The Rural Water Program is designed to improve the efficiency and quality of group water scheme. Each county. A strategic rural water plan pinpointing areas, identifying areas that need improvement and deciding how to make whatever finances by way of granting subsidies available. Authorities must compiled a list of group schemes and monitor their quality.
A registration system was introduced under the Water Services (Amendment) Act, 2012 for domestic waste water treatment systems. This would include septic tanks and similar systems.
There is an obligation to register with local authority every five year. First registration on 1st February 2013. Late registration is accepted. Registrations after the date will not be eligible for grants if remedial works are required. Local authorities compile and make available a register.
Local authorities are to carry out inspections. The purpose of inspections are to commence in 2013 and concentrate on high risk of environmental damage and public health where drinking water sources, habitat are at risk from waste water. If a system is found not to be working, requirements can be made in for remediation work. If work is required, grants may be available to assist the cost of work.
The person who has a septic tank or domestic waste water systems owns the duty of care to ensure it does not harm human health or the environment of creating nuisance.
The EPA produced a Code of Practice in 2009 on waste treatment systems of single houses. It defines performance standards including maintenance and dislodging requirement.
The grants payable depend on income level. Low grants payable over €75,000 household income. Up to €50,000 maximum grant of 80 percent cost to a maximum of €4,000 may be available. Between €50,000 and €75,000 of the maximum cost is €50,000, 50 percent up to maximum of €2,500.