Water charges are not about water conservation, but about profit as the as yet unknown standing charge will have to be paid even if a household uses no water.
This is the view of the People Before Profit Alliance’s Galway City Central candidate Kiran Emrich, who was reacting to the controversy over the level of the standing charge that will be imposed on households for water usage.
It had been alleged that the standing charge would be €100, but An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in the Dáil on Tuesday denied this, saying the actual charge has yet to be decided. However Mr Emrich has raised serious concerns over, not only the standing charges, but the issue of charging for water itself.
Regardless of what the standing charge for domestic water use will be, Mr Emrich said, it will still “hit already struggling households hard”, as the total yearly water bill could be up to €300.
He also said standing charges revealed that water charges are not about water conservation, but about making profits.
“A standing charge will have to be paid even if the household uses no water,” he said. “Water is a basic human right and should not be charged for or privatised. The Government says it must charge for water to maintain the infrastructure but we already pay for this through general taxation. We shouldn’t have to pay twice.”
Mr Emrich has described water charges as “a disgrace”, and standing charges as “adding further insult to injury”.
People Before Profit is organising a nationwide campaign to resist the water charges and Mr Emrich is encouraging people to get involved.
“It is only through people power that we can defeat the water charges,” he said. “People getting together in their estates, communities, and towns and cities across the country and standing up to the Government can force them to back down.”
The issue of water charges has also produced an angry response from the Anti-Austerity Alliance’s Galway City East candidate Conor Burke, who said Government is “back-tracking on the estimate of the standing charge from €100 to €50” and is a poor and “perverse” attempt to turn the issue into “some kind of good news story”.
Fianna Fáil Galway City West candidate David Burke is calling on the Government to provide households with a free water allowance, “instead of forcing them to pay a hefty charge before they even turn on their taps”.
He added that there is no indication as yet from Government whether it will address the fact that 40 per cent of water is lost through leaking pipes. He accused Government party candidates in Galway of “not putting pressure” on Environment Minister Phil Hogan to tackle this issue.