Irish Times
HARRY McGEE, Political Staff

Water charges for all inevitable as supplies dwindle

UNIVERSAL WATER charges will become “inevitable” in Ireland as supplies begin to dwindle, the country’s leading climate change expert has predicted. Prof John Sweeney, head of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit at NUI Maynooth, said that despite the heavy rainfall and floods of the past two summers[…]

Drier conditions and greater demand from a growing population, would make water a “premium product”, he said. As a result, charges would have to be introduced.

Prof Sweeney said there was a mismatch between where the majority of the population was located and where supplies were most abundant.

“There’s a much larger population in the east and most of the rain is in the north and west,” he said, in an interview with The Irish Times . “And as population increases in the eastern half of the island, it will accentuate the need for water.”

At present, there are no water charges for domestic users in Ireland as a result of the Government negotiating derogations from the EU water framework directive in 2000.

Prof Sweeney said putting a price on water was as important as imposing a carbon levy.

“Carbon taxes are part of the programme for government. The sooner we grasp the nettle and comply, the better[…]

“Clean water will become a dwindling resource with more demand. In that situation, it will have a pricing component similar to that of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

Dublin City Council has commissioned consultants to examine the options for alternative supply sources. The report is expected to be completed in early 2009.

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