When do Irish water charges start?

A guide to water services in Ireland, the new Excess Use Charge from Irish Water, and how to save on water bills.

What are water charges in Ireland?

Irish Water supplies water connection, supply, and wastewater services in Ireland.

At the moment, domestic customers don’t have to pay charges for Water Supply and Wastewater services if they don’t exceed their Annual Allowance.

However, Irish Water plans to bring in household charges for excess water use during the latter part of 2022 according to the Irish Water Charges Plan.

A date hasn’t been set for the Excess Use Charge yet, but it is thought householders won’t start getting billed until January 2024 at the earliest.

What is the Excess Use Charge?

It’s a charge for households that use an excessive amount of water and is being introduced to try and reduce water waste.

Legislation has been put in place, which allows Irish Water to apply Excess Use Charges when a household exceeds the Annual Allowance.


The threshold is set at more than 1.7 the average household amount, so you’ll only have to pay the charge if your household uses more than 213,000 litres (213m³) of water per year. Households with more than four people will have a greater allowance.


What if you live in a large household?

Household size Annual Allowance Excess Use charge  
Up to 4 people 213,000 litres Over 213 m³  
5 people 238,000 litres Over 238 m³  
6 people 263,000 litres Over 263 m³  
More than 6 people Allow 25,000 litres for every extra person per household    

Households of more than four will have to apply for additional allowance amounts. The process for applying will be included in a future version of the Water Charges Plan

How much is the Excess Use Charge?

Irish Water proposes to apply a flat rate excess use charge of €1.85 per m³ (1,000 litres) for Water Supply, and the same will apply for Waste Water charges. The Volumetric combined charge will be €3.70 per m³ (1,000 litres).

The maximum annual Excess Use Charges are set out below

Service Maximum Charge per year  
Water Supply €250  
Wastewater service €250  
Combined service €500  

This means that no household will ever be charged more than €500 for excess use, and in reality, any charges will be far lower than the maximum charge.

What if you don’t have a water meter?

Irish Water will contact unmetered customers if they identify excess use and seek to install a meter. This will enable them to monitor water use and fairly charge for excess use.

Excess Use in unmetered dwellings will be charged the maximum annual metered Excess Use Charge (see table).

If the installation of a meter is not viable, Irish Water will seek to connect a flow monitoring device.

When will customers start getting Excess Use bills?

In practice, the first bills for excess water usage probably won’t be issued before 2024. This is because Irish Water has to follow a process that informs and warns the customer before applying charges.

By law Irish Water will have to:

  1. Give Notice to any domestic customer that exceeds the water use threshold over 12 months to give them time to reduce their usage or repair leaks before charges are sought.
  2. Inform householders that Excess Use Charges will be applied if the Annual Allowance continues to be exceeded over the six months beginning on the day of the giving of the Notice.
  3. Bill for an Excess Use Charge if the customer continues to exceed use during the six months and during any period after the six-month period.

5 tips to use less water

Saving water could help you save money and avoid the Excess Use Charge, and it’s also good for the environment.

Here are some of the best ways to cut your usage:

  • Check for leaks: You might not even know you’re using a lot of water if you have a leak. Here’s how to check for leaks and find out whether you could get them repaired for free.
  • Ditch your bath: Replace your bath with a shower because running a bath uses much more water. If you already shower, cut your shower time by a couple of minutes to save even more water.
  • Wait till your washing machine & dishwasher are full: This will cut how many cycles you do and save electricity too. Also, try to buy appliances that use less water per cycle when it’s time to get a new machine.
  • Turn off your taps when brushing your teeth: It’s estimated that we use six litres a minute from leaving taps running while brushing our teeth.
  • Use rainwater to water your garden: Plants prefer rainwater, and a water butt could collect up to 5,000 litres a year for free.

You can find more tips for saving water on the Irish Water website.

Water bill FAQs

What is the Irish Water Charges Plan?

The Plan outlines how Irish Water charges its customers. It has been approved by the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) and details domestic water supply and wastewater charging arrangements from 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2024.

It was last updated in October 2021 and may be updated or amended from time to time.

I’m still waiting for my water charges refund, what should I do?

Cheques should have already been sent out to households that are due a refund. If you’re still waiting for yours you’ll need to contact Irish Water.

What is a boil water notice?

It’s a formal notice from Irish Water to boil and cool your tap water before drinking it to make it safe. If a notice is issued in your area, you’ll need to boil and cool your water before using it to drink, wash food, make ice and brush your teeth. You can find out more about boil water notices on Water.ie.

What is the Water Conservation Grant?

It was a grant to help pay for water saving improvements to your home, for example, fixing water leaks or installing a conservation system. Applications closed in 2015, and the grant was suspended in 2016.

What should I do if I've lost water pressure?

You can check if there are any issues with the water supply on the Irish Water website. If there are no issues in your area follow the steps listed on Water.ie.

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