Water meterplug cheats may be jailed
a cheap way of fiddling water meters could land people in jail, Irish Water has said.
Groups opposed to the water charge have been encouraging people to replace the meter counter with a plastic plug that can be bought for as little as €2.
The plugs will still allow the water to run freely in homes that use them.
But Irish Water has warned that tampering with a meter will be taken very seriously, and people trying to avoid the charge could be jailed for up to three months or face fines of up to €5,000.
A spokesperson for the company said: "We will investigate any cases of tampering or removing a water meter and will determine the most appropriate course of action on a case-by-case basis."
More than 100 anti-water charge groups will meet next month in Cork to devise a national strategy.
Some groups are handing out the plugs in exchange for a small donation.
It is believed that in Trim, Co Meath, around 200 people have already begun using the plugs.
A large number of campaigning groups around the country are holding protests and trying to keep Irish Water from installing meters in their estates.
Last week in Sligo, a group managed to prevent the installation of meters in the Cranmore estate, with gardai being called in to mediate in the dispute.
Next month, members of People Before Profit, Sinn Fein and Eirigi will be among those meeting in Cork to come up with a nationwide plan to get rid of the controversial water charge.
A spokesperson for the Passage West Says No group said imposing a water charge on families was a bad political decision that would affect everyone in the country.
The group also indicated that homeowners will be given step-by-step instructions on how to replace water meters with the plastic plugs.
The estimated average charge for water is around €240 per household per year.
But the Commission for Energy Regulation will finalise the charges next month.
The first bills are expected to be issued next year in respect of the last quarter of this year, with assessment charges to be arranged for those with no meter installed.
Each household will receive a free allowance of 30,000 litres a year, with an extra 38,000 per child.
People with certain medical conditions as well as old age pensioners, carers and households on benefits are also expected to be given additional allowances.
Irish Water said households will be called on to self-declare any allowances they may be entitled to.