With so much water coming down from the sky over the island of Ireland, it may seem odd that one would have to pay for water. But water has to be collected and delivered to where you live and work, and collected within buildings, treated and emptied through sewers. Those activities cost money and that is what water charges are for.
But there is another reason for charges on water usage. Water is a precious natural resource that is becoming more scarce, from lots more people depending on it and because climate change is drying up areas that used to collect water naturally, like lakes and groundwater aquifers. As it becomes scarce, it becomes necessary to get people to use less of it so it can be shared fairly.
One way to change behavior — getting people to use less of something that they take for granted — is to make them pay more for it, and charge them directly for what they use. Measuring their usage through smart meters can also tell people how much water they are using. If they find it expensive, they can reduce the amount of water they use by being more efficient.
With such charging schemes, it is often necessary to provide subsidies for poor people who are disproportionately affected by rising water charges since a higher portion of their income is spent on basic necessities like water.
Some further ideas to explore on Water Charges
How much water do you use each day, averaged over 30-90 days? How can you determine that?
How much do you pay for that water?
Where does the water you use come from? Is there less water than there was 10 years ago? If this information is not easily available, how do you find it?
Citizens Information Ireland, Water Charges, bit.ly/1uhN1bl
Steven Carroll, “A brief history of water charges in Ireland: A chronological drip-feed from the abolition to the reintroduction of water charges,” The Irish Times (19 Nov 2014). bit.ly/2BEBk9f
Find out how water companies in England & Wales are performing, Discover Water bit.ly/2ENP6tt
Public Policy, Domestic Water Charges in Europe bit.ly/2EOQe0m
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