Draft report lists options for dealing with excessive water usage

Chairman of the Oireachtas committee on water charges is proposing a four-week extension to its deadline

Draft report lists options for dealing with excessive water usage

File photo: PA Image

A draft report of the Oireachtas water services committee has listed five options for dealing with excessive usage.

Fine Gael insists there should be a charge in compliance with EU laws.

Fianna Fáil, in contrast, says excessive use should be dealt with by the 2007 Water Services Act - which it says can be amended or strengthened if necessary.

The chairman Pádraig O'Céidigh wants a charge similar to the plastic bag levy, while other options have suggested examining legislation.

Fianna Fáil TD and committee member John Lahart says Fine Gael wants to spend too much money to tackle the small numbers using water excessively.

"There is very little - if any - willful, deliberate, conscious abuse of water," he said.

"What Fine Gael is proposing is to spend €300m - that could be invested in infrastructure - on capturing just a portion of the 7% of those who are using water," he added.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Oireachtas committee is proposing a four-week extension to its deadline.

The group of 20 politicians had been due to issue a final report on the future of water charges by next Monday.

But Senator Ó Ceidigh has asked members to extend the deadline until Good Friday to try and finish off a deal.

However, he still hopes that a final agreement can be reached within the next fortnight.

Members are meeting behind closed doors this lunchtime to consider the latest proposals.