An Independent councillor has hit out at Irish Water over a bill received by a constituent seeking to connect a small development to the water network.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne told the February meeting of Mayo County Council: "Just outside Castlebar is a small village and a man with a small house, he applied for planning permission and knocked the house and built a new house and apartment at the back and the shop unit there, he was doing his bit for the economy. He goes to connect into the sewer and bear in mind there was a connection there already - and he gets a bill from Irish Water for how much? His question was responded to by Cathaoirleach Cllr Blackie Gavin who told the meeting: "€14,000".
Councillor Kilcoyne replied saying: "Correct, I just want to say if Irish Water want to assist the people inside the M50 and close down rural Ireland they are doing a good job, why would anyone pay that kind of money for it - and a connection that was already existing."
The issue of the pricing of existing homes connecting to sewerage schemes was raised by Fianna Fáil Cllr Damien Ryan who called for a €1,000 cap to be put in place for existing homes connecting to schemes. He told the meeting that: "From April 1 the connection fees to the waste water system are going to go dramatically up. I know that provision has been made for Breaffy, The Neale and Cross of €1,000 but it will go dramatically up. We should be making the case to the regulator that it be kept the same for schemes around the county.
"It is different if it is a new connection or planning application, but if it is an existing house to get them to convert over from a septic tank - all that should apply to those is the €1,000 and I propose we write to the regulator and seek that. You will never get people to take part if their existing ones are working well."
Cheif executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes said: "It is a matter for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, I agree that there should be some differentiation for existing schemes and with septic tanks and that should be given priority and we can communicate that. "