The Irish Independent points out that a colossal €350m ($462m) was thrown down the toilet (well, the drain) by not opting for a private sector service provider, while Mayo TD Dara Calleary (FF) has called for Irish householders to be given the right to install their own meters rather than fork out the exorbitant €300 ($500) the Government is demanding for them, pointing out that a DIY job would save the taxpayer vasts sums of money, while still providing reliable and tamper-proof recordings of domestic water use.
A Limerick politician has made a similar call on the government, while pointing out that the actual charge to Irish householders of having the necessary water meters in their homes will be closer to €800 ($1000), because the €40 service charge recurs annually.
Most comical of all, though, was the revelation broadcast on Cork's 96FM this morning that install-ready water meters could be acquired for the un-princely sum of approximately $40, through the ever trustworthy do-it-all retailer, Amazon.co.uk.
The 15mm 1/2 inch BSP Cold Water Meter is manufactured by Bosch's AHS, and even sports three glowing user reviews, vouching for its reliability, sturdiness, and ease of installation.
One satisfied customer had no problem recommending the product, after having been delighted with the effectiveness with which it calculated his garden.
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The meter is also compliant with the UK's WRAS -- Water Regulations Advisory Scheme -- an obviously more enlightened regulatory regime than what's being proposed here.
Well-known economist Richard Tol offered a slightly higher estimation in the weekend's Sunday Business Post, but even by his figures a "basic water meter costs €50, a fancy one €150".
The point is this: were the government to merely charge for a basic Government-vetted installation service, while allowing customers the freedom to acquire their own metering units, the result would be a multi-million Euro saving.
A 'major national water supplier' has already said that the installation job could be done for less than €100 ($130), which would make sense when factoring in a meter approximating the cost of the basic Amazon meter, as well as a €70 ($90) allowance for an hour's manual labor installing the device.
Citizens have also expressed incredulity that water charges, and the installation of meters to price them at, didn't come under the rubric of one of the 'essential local services' which the household tax was meant to cover. "The whole thing stinks to high heaven," a commenter on popular political forum Politics.ie offered.
Things could never be so simple, of course, but the result is a staggeringly large waste of money, and the necessitating of a Government loan from the National Pension Reserve Fund's ever dwindling coffers.
But the bigger picture is one of continued government wastage, a reluctance to use meaningful tendering and procurement, and an ever more hollow sounding pledge from the government to cut back on public spending in order to make the nation's books balance.
If the government is serious on increasing spending efficiencies and saving the bottom line then it has an easy place to start: by letting people install their own water meters.
Offer to the Irish people to supply water meters for domestic use by Michael Hardman, Technical Director at Precision Meters, South Africa.
I very much liked your article in Irish Central. €400 per meter -- which I take is 1/2" brass meter -- is absolutely crazy. Even €40 is far too much. I could supply water meters SABS approved at €25 delivered to Ireland.