Dublin, Ireland — (METERING.COM) — November 25, 2010 – As part of a four-year austerity plan aimed at returning Ireland to economic stability, the government has committed itself to introducing water metering and billing nationwide by 2014.
In its National Recovery Plan, the government says it intends to prioritize investment in water services to achieve and maintain compliance with various requirements (including those arising from the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive), to address issues in relation to the condition of water infrastructure in key urban centers and to meet future demand requirements.
Part of the expenditure savings package will arise from the introduction of a scheme for the metering and charging for domestic water, with charging for water introducing a new revenue stream to meet costs at present funded by taxation. It is intended that domestic water charges will cover local authorities’ operational costs, as well a proportion of the capital cost of providing water services to the domestic sector.
Overall it is anticipated that the new revenue accruing from the water charges could lead to annual savings of up to €500 million per annum on operating costs, with further significant capital savings arising on a graduated basis the following years, the government says.
In addition, savings will result from the incentive effects of the metering system, which will reduce demand to economically efficient levels over both the short and long term.
The government notes that the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) has agreed in principle to fund the domestic meter installation program up to an amount of €550 million.
Further, it says it recognizes that a crucial element of implementing this initiative will be the appointment of a water regulator.
The National Recovery Plan is aimed to reduce Ireland’s deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the year 2014, and follows the award of a €85 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Specifically the Plan seeks to achieve an “adjustment” of €15 billion over the four years, with €10 billion being saved by way of cuts in spending and €5 billion by way of tax increases.