Westmeath group water schemes urged to come inside the fold

Residents in Westmeath attached to group water schemes were advised this week to apply to Irish Water to be taken in charge to avoid the possibility of additional charges.

“It is advisable for group water schemes to apply to be taken in charge or they could be liable for extra charges,” said Hugh O’Reilly, director of services for Kilbeggan.

He was speaking at this week’s area committee meeting in Kilbeggan in reply to a motion from Cllr Colm Arthur enquiring as to what effect the recent establishment of Irish Water will have on the 500 households served by group water schemes in Westmeath.

Though all mains supply customers in Westmeath - 27,000 domestic, and 2,500 commercial - came under the remit of Irish Water on January 1, “there is no change in the role of Westmeath County Council with regard to the group water sector”.

“Only when a group scheme wishes to be taken in charge will Irish Water be involved, as the takeover of the scheme and assets will ultimately be a decision for Irish Water and not the council,” said Mr O’Reilly.

He told the meeting that it would be in a scheme’s best interest to install a group meter on the source, “and then allocate cost with individual meters at each customer’s house”.

Without this, he felt, Irish Water could set a value on the delivered water which might not reflect its true useage to members within a former scheme.

“If they’re not taken in charge, they [the group water schemes] may end up in a situation where they would have to collect the charges from each individual property, and then pay Irish Water for the group,” he pointed out.

“The advice is to get taken in charge as soon as possible or they could be left with the administrative headache of billing people, then collecting and paying. If they’re taken in charge Irish Water will take care of this,” he explained.

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