A young man in Athenry, who is building a house on family owned land, has been in contact with the Galway Advertiser to express his anger that Galway County Council and Irish Water are charging a combined total of €4,800 to install a pipe to connect to the water mains. The water runs directly in front of the site on which the man is building.
The couple have already paid a development levy of €3,530 to the council for recreational amenities, and €1,800 to the ESB to connect to electricity. Therefore before they begin to install the foundation of their house, they will have shelled out more than €10,000 to connect to basic utilities.
The man, who does not wish to be named, feels it is very unfair that people are being expected to fork out sums like this to be connected to basic services. “Our scheme used to be run locally but was taken over by Irish Water. If I was living a mile up the road and connected to a private group scheme that has not been taken over by Irish Water, I would only have to pay €1,100 to be connected. Like what am I getting for nearly €5,000? It is an absolutely ridiculous cost. The pipe is running in front of my gate, they will probably have to dig down about a metre to connect me to it. I would offer to do it myself for nothing if they would allow me!”
The man had considered digging his own well, but it is a condition of the planning that he must connect to Irish Water so he effectively has no choice but to pay the exorbitant fees. His father says he is disgusted by the situation his son now finds himself in. “Before he ever turns a sod, he has thousands spent. They are making it so difficult for young people to live in the countryside. They want everyone inside in towns. It is not fair. How are young people supposed to be able to build a house with charges like this being lumped on them? They have to come up with a 20 per cent deposit for the mortgage, pay all these fees, and pay rent elsewhere while they are building. It is making it virtually impossible for people to progress and own their own home.”
The man’s father said the issues his son has encountered while trying to build his own home was making him more disillusioned with the political system. “This is the legacy this Government and all previous ones have left us. I am sick of it. Irish Water is a racket - the company is looking for thousands of euro to dig five foot down to a pipe. It is crazy, and it is crippling the small man. I believe all the road tax we are paying is being pumped into Irish Water as well. The council haven’t the money now to go out and fill a pothole on the country roads that are wrecked from flooding. It is not right what is being done to people. We can’t all live in the city.”
The case was raised by local general election candidate Michael Fahy, who labelled the situation a disgrace. “I was shocked when I was contacted by these people. These costs from Irish Water are outrageous. I don’t believe the council was ever charging as much to connect up to water mains. If this is the way Irish Water is going to treat the general public it should not be tolerated. The company can’t be allowed walk all over people.”
Irish Water was contacted by the Galway Advertiser to issue a statement in relation to this situation. The company replied by claiming the fee charged remains the same as what was previously charged by Galway County Council prior to December 2013, except those fees were all paid in the guise of a development levy. The statement read “Prior to the formation of Irish Water, the €4,800 fee referred to, would have been paid in the following way to the relevant local authority: 1. Connection Fee: €1,500 2. The portion of the development levy which the local authority charged for water/wastewater infrastructure: €3,300. Since Irish Water took responsibility for water services in Ireland this fee is now paid to Irish Water instead of to the relevant local authority. In regards to the connection charges for a water only connection in Athenry, the quoted connection charge of €4,800 would be appropriate.”