18 January 2017

Labour spokesperson on water Jan O’Sullivan TD has welcomed the clarification from EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella in a letter provided to the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services (of which she is a member) today by Minister Simon Coveney. The letter outlines the Commission position on how Ireland would comply with the EU’s Water Framework Directive.

The letter states that the Directive provides ‘…a margin of appreciation. However, any water pricing policy must comply with the principles of cost recovery and ‘polluter pays’.

Further, the letter encourages Ireland to give particular attention to:
‘- the recovery of costs must ensure that the Irish water sector meets its serious needs in terms of both maintenance and investment in water and waste water infrastructure;

– in order for the charge on excessive or wasteful use of water to attain its purpose, the consumption of water for normal use should be set at a reasonable level, and the charge for excessive or wasteful use should be dissuasive. The completion of metering will be instrumental to this effect.’

Commenting on the letter, Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“The letter from Commissioner Vella provides clarity to the Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services and helps in setting key parameters for the committee’s findings, especially if our recommendations are to comply with the EU’s Water Framework Directive.

“The letter supports Labour’s position which is that there should be a reasonable and generous personal allowance, with charges for excessive and wasteful use.”

“Interestingly, the Commission also highlights that metering will be essential to achieving this, as without a meter, there is no way to determine whether an excessive amount of water is being used.

“We continue to support a referendum to enshrine the public ownership of our water infrastructure, and we believe those who have paid charges up until their suspension should be refunded.”


Copy of letter available at:

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