Co Armagh farmers, business and officers are about to be hit with a 3.35% increase in water and sewerage charges.
The changes to non-domestic – in other words all bar household – are due to be implemented from Sunday, April 1.
It will come as a blow to business and agricultural sectors who like everyone have been feeling the effects of the economic downturn over recent years.
But NI Water insists that the rise is below the current 3.6% level of inflation and has been unavoidable.
Confirmation of the hike has been announced this morning (Thursday).
NI Water Director of Finance and Regulation, Ronan Larkin, explained that the amount by which NI Water can increase customer tariffs is determined by the Utility Regulator.
And he added: “We had the option to increase tariffs by up to 4.6%, on average, in 2018/19.
“The decision to limit the increase, was in part due to the additional sustainable cost savings which NI Water has secured.
“In limiting the increase in this way, we have sought to strike a balance between our need to generate sufficient income to allow us to continue delivering our services and minimising impact on business customers.
“NI Water, like other businesses, has been impacted by rising electricity costs and other cost increases outside our control.
“Whilst the cost of providing water and sewerage services to our customers has risen, we have been able to absorb some of these and minimise the increase in our tariffs.
“We have worked closely with the Utility Regulator and with the Consumer Council to ensure that any increase remains as low as possible, and continues to represent good value for money.
“This rise – coupled with our decision to limit rises in the previous two years – means businesses will still be paying less, in real terms, for their water and sewerage services than they did at the start of our Price Control 2015 period.”
Leaflets will be mailed to non-domestic customers to notify them of the forthcoming pricing changes and, specifically, how they will be applied.
While the value of a customer’s bill will vary depending on the amount of water used or the value (NAV), NI Water has given what is describes as ‘typical examples2 of how customers may be impacted.
Typical measured customer examples: A shop or small office unit, connected to sewer, using 285M³ of water, will pay £383, a rise of £13.
A medium size factory, connected to sewer, using 1,300M³ of water, will pay £3,492, a rise of £111
Farmer using 400M³ of water, with septic tank, will pay £282, a rise of £8.
Typical unmeasured customer examples
Small to medium shop or office unit, with a NAV of £8,000, connected to sewer, will pay £282, a rise of £10.
Anyone with questions about the scheme of charges can phone the Billing Enquiries Team on 03458 770030. The full scheme of charges is available on NI Water’s website at www.niwater.com