DONEGAL anti-auserity campaigners have now added proposed water charges to their campaign hitlist – vowing to stop them as independent experts predicted the annual charge for a family will be around €625 per year.
This figure does not include the proposed €40 per year standing charge.
The Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay campaign says that plans to introduce water charges are in disarray before a single water meter has been fitted and has called for the planned charges to be scrapped.
Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig of the campaign steering committee said today: “The news that households will be expected to pay for the cost of water meter installation suggests that the government has learned nothing from the Household Charge fiasco. There will be even more resistance to paying this.”
He claimed the Government has been “rocked” by the level of non-payment of the Household tax.
The campaigner went on: “Labour Party councillors around the country are in open revolt to the proposal, while in Donegal, Labour Councillors have hastily joined Sinn Fein and even Fianna Fail councillors on what is becoming a very crowded bandwagon, in opposing steps to pursue Household Tax non-payers.
“Our campaign is totally opposed to water charges and meter charges. We are calling for water charges to be scrapped. If the government persists, we will organise a campaign of non-payment as we did with the Household Tax.
“It is being argued that water metering is necessary as a conservation measure. This is not the case. It has been shown that in the long term, water usage declines by only 10% after metering. Compare this with the national average of 40% of water lost through the supply network in aging, leaky pipes.
“It has been estimated that the cost of metering could be as high as € 1.5 billion. If this money was instead invested in improving the supply network, it would yield much greater savings in water use.
“Water metering is a step towards privatisation, where our water supply will be turned into a commodity. This is also why it is proposed to take responsbility for the water supply network away from county councils and hand it to a new body, Irish Water.”
The Government has rejected this claim.
The Gaoth Dobhair man said however: “We are already paying for water supply and treatment from our general taxation. It is not a case of asking for ‘something for nothing’. We are demanding fairness and resisting the plunder of another of our natural resources.”
Donegal County Council will lose all control over the delivery of water by 2017 at the latest.
Meanwhile newspaper reports today suggest the household tax will rise to an annual fee of around €1,000 next year.