Water wasters could face Euro 5,000 fines

Households, businesses and even schools could face massive fines if they waste water under regulations that have come into force.

Irish Environment Minister John Gormley announced the start of the policies to conserve more water.

They are intended to prevent leakage from poorly maintained water systems and pipes, enforce hosepipe bans and other drought regulations, and prevent what the environment department describes as “excessive consumption of water”.

Local authorities will now be able to issue notices – or emergency notices which cannot be appealed against – demanding action to be taken to cut water usage.

Any individual, organisation or business that fails to act to reduce water consumption could be handed a fine of up to Euro 5,000.

Minister Gormley’s department said: “Although normally intended to deal with specific problems in individual premises, the notices may also be issued to classes of owners or occupiers, such as particular trades or businesses as considered necessary.

“For example, schools closing for summer holidays may be requested to ensure that automatic flushing mechanisms for toilets be turned off.”

The regulations could also hit farmers, as during water shortages and droughts, local authorities will be allowed to restrict the use of water for irrigating or spraying crops.

However, Minister Gormley said he did not intend to put an outright ban on watering crops.

But he said it might mean farmers would have to water crops in the evening or at night to minimise the amount of water lost through evaporation.

Kate Martin

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