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Irish Water customers to receive their first bills

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Image caption Irish Waters says 1.5m customers will be billed over an eight-week period

Households in the Republic of Ireland will receive their first bills for water services on Wednesday.

Irish Water, the country's water utility, is rolling out the quarterly billing to 1.5m customers on a phased basis over the next eight weeks.

The system went live on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the first 39,000 bills will be issued to customers.

But Irish Water has said that it anticipates mistakes will be made.

It said the billing process is a "significant task" and it expects there will be errors in its database.

On Tuesday, Irish Water confirmed that it had asked around 11,000 customers who submitted payment details in writing or over the phone to re-submit the information.

It said that 9,000 customers who gave details of direct debit mandates over the phone were asked to re-submit them in writing, following concerns over data protection.

Another 2,000 customers who submitted payment details in writing were asked to do so again, due to "errors" in transposing customer details online.

Challenges

Staffing at a call centre in Cork has been increased to 750 to deal with customer queries during the initial billing period.

Staff at Irish Water and their customer service agents have been involved in a dry run on the billing system for several weeks.

Elizabeth Arnett, Irish Water's head of corporate services, acknowledged that mistakes could be made.

"We expect to face challenges, particularly when we have incomplete customer information or unregistered customers," she said.

"In these cases we may not have the right billing details and it's possible that the details we have may not be 100% correct."

Households

Initial charges will be 40 euros (£29) for a single-adult household and 65 euros (£47) for a two-adult household.

Annual bills will not exceed 160 euros (£117) for single-adult households or 260 euros (£190) for households with more than one adult.

A total of 1.7m bills will be issued, including to those who are not customers of the utility, such as to people on group water schemes.

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