Up to 188,000 non-domestic customers of Uisce Éireann are facing higher bills for water and waste water treatment from October, if proposals from the regulator are adopted.
The changes would see the annual bills of 172,837 or 91.6% non-domestic customers rise less than €250, while 8,100 or 4.3% would face annual bill increases of between €250 and €500.
Meanwhile, 6,986 customers would experience a €500-€5000 hike in annual bills and 702 large water users, representing just 0.4% of the total, would see their bills jump by €5,000 a year or more.
“The update to the non-domestic tariffs reflects the significant and necessary increase in investment by Uisce Éireann to improve public water and wastewater infrastructure and services over this 5-year period,” said Director of Networks and Economic Regulation at the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU), Karen Kavanagh.
“While this leads to customer bill impacts, the CRU has engaged with Uisce Éireann to ensure there are measures in place to help customers mitigate bill increases.
“These measures include providing customers with information on how to conserve water, improve efficiency of water use and wastewater disposal.
“The CRU will further engage with Uisce Éireann to understand what additional measures can be implemented to help customers mitigate future bill increases.”
The CRU is also proposing to end all bill capping arrangements by 1 October 2026 to ensure equitable charging arrangements for all non-domestic customers.
The regulator said some customers have already had three years of bill capping arrangements in place, but this has to end in order to comply with objectives set out in the EU Water Directive and Government policy.
The CRU’s consultation document also proposes new harmonised charging arrangements for more polluting trade effluent.
In 2021, Uisce Éireann introduced a national harmonised charging regime for non-domestic water and wastewater customers, to replace the 500 separate charges in place across 34 different local authorities and ten town councils.
The new tariffs were fixed for three years, to provide price certainty and stability to customers, especially those who transitioned from their old tariff rates to the new enduring tariff rates over time.
That transition period expires on 30 September next year.
But the framework does not contain a national set of harmonised charges for connections licensed to discharge trade effluent into Uisce Éireann’s wastewater network.
This means that there is a wide range of separate arrangements currently in place and many users do not have strong incentives to reduce the level of pollutants and volume of trade effluent discharged into Uisce Éireann’s wastewater network.
The CRU said that taken together the various proposals are designed to promote conservation, greater cost reflectivity, more efficient price signals to customers and create stronger incentives to reduce the volume and strength of trade effluent discharged into the wastewater network.
The consultation remains open until 15 February with a decision expected in the second quarter.