Water – A luxury or a Right?

tap water

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink, oh actually there is a drop to drink, it’s pumped directly to the kitchen tap but it seems a chunk of Irish society are unwilling to pay for the luxury or is it a right?

Is electricity a right? Is heat a right? Is refuse collection a right? Is the installation of a telephone line a right? Is broadband a right?

Arriving in Ireland this week there is one subject that is unavoidable, water charges.  Every radio station, TV programme and newspaper is banging on and on about water charges, water meters, water usage etc. Having spent the last five years paying water rates in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Indonesia, the idea of not paying for water seems almost ridiculous, surely after having to pay income tax, VAT on the price of a car, vehicle registration tax and finally road tax, did we really believe that there would be something for nothing in this country?   We paid the Local Property Tax, formerly known as the Household Charge, which was cleverly rolled out with a standard rate of one hundred per house and recently charged based on the value of your house, which could be valued at your own discretion, and a free throw of the dice to anyone who knows exactly what this tax is for?

We pay for everything else so why are we not marching on the streets about having to pay for under 5’s to attend a GP, for a licence to watch TV and for the pleasure to drive on a motorway and in light of these charges did we really think that water would remain free, something we use and abuse every day, free? No siree, not in Ireland, no free lunch.

We pay to get a bag of rubbish taken away but we will not pay to continue having the convenience of flushing a toilet.  We pay for the supply of a phone line, but we will not pay to have fresh drinking water delivered straight to our homes. We pay for every shrub and flower in our gardens but resent paying for the water to feed them, why is it so? Oh, that’s right, because it rains all the time and guess what, flooding is a problem too, truth is, there is no shortage of water, there is a shortage of cash, so should we not just cough up once more for the water and be glad that the government aren’t trying to get a few extra quid by charging us for natural light and fresh air?   Certainly not.

I’m in full agreement with contributing towards something that has a cost, but I am also in agreement with having a roll-out procedure, an accurate calculation of exactly how much a litre of water costs to deliver or a 5 year guarantee on the rates would have been nice. An introduction of the water charges during the boom times when we were on the crest of a wave would have been a more suitable time as opposed to a half-assed roll out just at the time when we are at our lowest ebb. Just when the last cent is squeezed dry we’re told that to run the tap for a cup of tea will metered and charged.

No free lunch here in Qatar either. We always pay for lunch and always pay for water, Evian, of course, as the tap water, despite being chargeable is undrinkable here in Qatar. Of course we pay for electricity, telephone line and Wi-Fi too, but that’s where the similarity ends. The living costs in Qatar differ greatly to living costs in Ireland incidentally, there is no water charge for Qatari citizens and while they water their camels for free, expatriates to the country must pay water rates to shower.   There is no income tax in Qatar, no VAT on goods, no household tax, pension levy, TV licence, refuse charges or road tax.

So perhaps it’s not ‘paying for water’, per se that’s the bone of contention but rather that the paying for water scheme is the straw that broke that camel’s back and god knows over the past few years in Ireland, there has been a few of them!.


2 thoughts on “Water – A luxury or a Right?

  1. I believe we have always paid for water here – it is called (or was called) Water Rates. This pays for the delivery of the water to our homes, and the taking away of our waste water. Some years ago water meters were brought in and I think I am right in saying that all newly built houses have to have them, but others iin older houses can choose to have one (which we did). Water meters mean you only pay for what you use, although you still pay for the sewerage. Yes water is a naturally occuring thing and there is nothing to stop us collecting rain water in barrels and using it, or getting it from the river, but if we want pure, clean water to come from our taps, and our waste water to be removed without any trouble to us, then that is something we should pay for.

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