Ireland water meters: Customers threaten staff with violence

Ireland water meter protests against installation
Water meter installers continue the rollout of 1 million AMR meters despite threats of violence from consumers

In Europe, the Ireland water meter rollout continues to battle with consumers resisting the programme as a local newspaper reports that installation staff have faced multiple acts of violence and threats with guns.

Local utility Irish Water told the government in a series of letters that staff installing meters had been assaulted 63 times and threatened with guns at least twice in the past 18 months, reports The Herald.

Head of Irish Water John Tierney informed Ireland’s environment minister Alan Kelly about a series of violent incidents that took place between January and May 2015 that included attacks with fireworks, rocks and broken glass.

Other staff members have been stalked, while the national utility said it recorded two incidents where workers were threatened with a firearm.

Ireland water meter charges

The incidents follow Ireland’s introduction of an automated meter reading system for water and introducing water charges for the first time.

Unlike most member states of the European Union, Ireland had imposed no household charges for water until the government approved a billing structure starting from 1 October, 2014.

Under the new payment guidelines, the Government is providing funding to Irish Water to cover children’s free allowance of 21,000 litres per annum per child.

In July 2013, Irish Water kicked off its rollout of more than 1 million AMR water meter.

At the time Mr Tierney of Irish Water estimated that approximately 27,000 meters will be installed each month in the nationwide program, which was due for completion by the end of 2016.

Ireland water meter tampering

In November 2014, reported how Irish Water was battling with customer-coordinated incidences of meter tampering.

Social media groups were encouraging ‘water meter fairies’ to remove or tamper with water meters around the country.

Local media reported that some Facebook groups had been shut down but others were still active, attracting several thousand followers.

Wearing a disguise, the ‘fairies’ were either removing essential components of the reader or removing it completely, allegedly at the request of the homeowners.