Water and sewerage charges only apply currently to non domestic customers connected to the public water and sewerage system.
Over the last number of years there has been much debate on the issue of the introduction of water and sewerage charges for domestic customers in Northern Ireland. Following an independent review (in 2007) into the delivery of water and sewerage services, the NI Executive acknowledged that consumers already pay an average of £160 per year towards water and sewerage services through their regional rate but this is not enough. The future for water and sewerage services and the possibility of direct water charges for domestic customers is a decision for the NI Executive. The NI Executive's draft Programme for Government 2011-2015 included the commitment that no additional water charges would be introduced during this period.
All non-domestic consumers who are connected to the public water and sewerage system must pay charges for these services. These charges are set out in NI Water’s Scheme of Charges which is reviewed annually.
Bills are either measured or unmeasured. The measured bill is made up of two parts; a standing charge and a charge based on the amount of water you use. Measured customers who pay business rates may be entitled to a domestic water and sewerage allowance. Measured customers are normally billed on a six-monthly basis. However, some larger customers may receive monthly bills.
There are two ways of being charged for customers without meters:
Net Annual Valuation Charge (NAV)
Unmeasured charges for water and sewerage consist of two elements – a standing charge applied to all unmeasured properties and a variable charge based on the property valuation. The property valuation is the Net Annual Valuation assigned to the premises by Land and Property Services (https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/land-property-services-lps).
Where it is not possible to install a meter, consumers can request an alternative assessed charge for water and sewerage. The assessed charge has two elements: a standing charge and a variable charge based on the loading units attributed to the water using appliances such as sinks or showers within the property.
You can also apply for a domestic allowance against assessed charges if you pay business rates.
Unmeasured and assessed charges customers are billed once a year.
Metered customers and those paying assessed charges that pay business rates for their property can apply for reductions on both the water and sewerage portions of their bill. This is 100 cubic metres per six months for water and 95 cubic metres per six months for sewage; the allowance must be used within the billing period and is not carried over. These allowances are subtracted from the usage recorded on the water meter. NI Water needs to see a copy of your business rates bills before applying this. The allowance can be backdated to the date that you started paying rates for your premises, up to a maximum of six years.
Non return to sewer allowance
NI Water automatically applies a 5% reduction to the measured sewerage charges on your bill. This is because in most businesses, most of the water used is returned to the sewerage system. If your business returns less than 95% of water to the sewerage network, you can apply to have your bill reduced accordingly. NI Water charges an application fee and may require a chargeable site visit to assess the allowance that you are entitled to. All fees are refundable if your application is successful.
Large user tariff
Customers using over 100,000 cubic metres of water per year and who have implemented a range of water efficient practices can apply for the Large User tariff. Once you have successfully applied for this tariff any water you use over this amount will be charged at a reduced rate with reductions of up to 30% for customers using over 500,000 cubic metres. Terms and conditions apply to this tariff; contact NI Water for further information.
What is the Consumer Council doing?
For domestic customers - We challenge NI Water to make sure it delivers its services in the most efficient way possible and offers value for money. The Consumer Council works with the Department for Infrastructure, the economic and environmental regulators and other stakeholders, to make sure consumers’ interests are at the heart of any decisions regarding our water and sewerage services.
For business customers - The Consumer Council works with the Utility Regulator and NI Water during the development of the annual scheme of charges, which sets out the charges for water, sewerage and other services that apply for each year. Our job is to ensure that any changes are fully justified and to improve the scheme of charges to make it more user-friendly and accessible for consumers.
Got a complaint about water/sewerage services?
If you have contacted NI Water and are unhappy with the way your enquiry or complaint was dealt with, the Consumer Council may be able to help. To find out more, visit our complaints section.
We have helped businesses save money by resolving water queries;
For more examples of issues we have resolved for businesses click here.