The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) is Ireland’s independent economic regulator with regulatory responsibilities relating to water, energy and energy safety. It was established in 1999 under the Electricity Regulation Act. The primary function of the CRU is to protect customers and safeguard the sustainability and economic viability of its regulated utilities.
Regarding water regulation, the CRU has no quality or environmental regulatory functions. These responsibilities instead rest with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The CRU is composed of four divisions headed by three commissioners and four directors. In total, the CRU employs 90 staff.
Irish Water (IW) was established in 2013 as the national public utility with responsibility for the provision of public water services in Ireland. Irish Water is the sole provider of water and wastewater services through the public distribution system and serves about 78% of the country’s population. In carrying out its functions, Irish Water is subject to economic regulation by the CRU, in line with the provisions set out in the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013.
A number of small private water schemes exist outside the public system. These operate independently and are not subject to economic regulation by the CRU. Private wells and wastewater treatment systems are also not regulated by the CRU.
The CRU has the responsibility of regulating the price structure of water and wastewater services in Ireland. It carefully monitors the information, assumptions and data used by Irish Water in its submissions, engages in public consultation on proposed charges and sets tariffs accordingly.
Irish Water tariffs consist of two elements: water and wastewater. For simplicity, domestic tariffs for the two services are assumed to be equal, i.e. it is assumed that the amount of water and wastewater used by a dwelling is equal and is charged at the same level.
Irish Water was incorporated as a new utility in 2013 and, as a result, regulation of the water industry in Ireland is at an early stage of development. Prior to this, water services were provided by 34 local authorities, which charged non-domestic customers at a tariff unique to each local authority. Domestic customers were charged for water through general taxation.
Irish Water began charging non-domestic customers from 1st October 2014. Domestic water charges began on 1st January 2015. There are different tariffs for domestic and non-domestic customers and the current charges will remain in place until 31st December 2016. Domestic customers register the amount of adults that live in a dwelling and are charged accordingly. Children under the age of 18 are granted free water and wastewater services. This is administered by way of an annual allowance of 21,000 litres per year for each registered child at a dwelling.
Quality of Service
The quality of the services provided by Irish Water is monitored and reviewed by the CRU.
The CRU’s goal is to ensure a reliable supply of clean water and efficient treatment of wastewater. As economic regulator of Irish Water, the CRU must oversee the implementation of a range of customer protection measures to ensure that customers are receiving a good quality service in return for their water charges. It also monitors the revenue requirement of Irish Water to ensure that utillity has the appropriate funding to carry out its operations and to deliver the best possible service to customers..
It will monitor Irish Water’s performance in relation to the requirements of a customer handbook, which sets out the utility’s obligations to customers. This requires Irish Water to prepare a number of Codes of Practice including the Customer Terms and Conditions which underpin the agreed water charges. Irish Water has a duty to attain certain standards on continuity and reliability of supply; billing and payment facilities and procedures; customer complaints procedures and resolution of disputes.
The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013
Number of employees
90 employees (15 working in the water division)
CRU – Commission for Regulation of Utilities
The Exchange, Belgard Square North
Tallaght, Dublin 24
Tel: + 353 1 4000 800
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Directorate for the Environmental, Community and Local Government
Environmental Protection Agency
Number of operators
Ownership and management of services
Volume of activity
Economic and financial data (2014)