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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Water bill should be put on rates
Dripping tap
Water charges should be added to rates bills, a review on how to fund Northern Ireland's water and sewerage services says.

The report is due to be released on Friday, but the BBC has learned its main recommendations.

In June, Queen's University Professor Paddy Hillyard was appointed to chair a team to examine water charges.

Their report says that a proposal for a separate water charge should be abandoned.

The team also wants plans for metering to be discontinued.

Instead they propose that a water charge could be collected by the Rates Collection Agency as a part of the rates bill, with water and sewerage charges clearly identified on the face of the bill.

In the next financial year the team believes 109m should be taken from domestic rates and devoted to water.

For the average household this means the water component of the rates bill would be 160.

That compares to an average bill of 340 under the direct rule plan.

In succeeding years the report says the water element of the rates should ensure water services are self-financing, but it doesn't spell out how much that might cost.

The review team suggest savings can be made by doubling efficiency within the Water Service and by re-allocating certain costs.

For example they suggest that the cost of draining water from the roads could be met by the Roads Service rather than the Water Service.

SEE ALSO
Executive moves on NI water bills
10 May 07 |  Northern Ireland

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