TANAISTE Joan Burton is insisting that average families will pay less than €200 annually on their water charges.
Ms Burton provoked major confusion in Government this week when she told the Dail that a family of four adults would pay less than €200 in charges.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted Labour leader Joan Burton was "speaking in a personal capacity".
Asked by the Herald was the figure a slip of the tongue, Ms Burton replied, "No, not at all."
She explained how the figure of less than €200 came about.
"What has been talked about has been the indicative charges by the Commission for Energy Regulation (is a) single person €176 and two person household being about €270 plus.
"Then in addition when I met the Taoiseach in July when I was elected leader of the Labour party, I put it on the agenda it wasn't being talked about much at all.
"At that point my concern, in my experience as Minister for Social Protection from talking to organisations like Barnardos and Saint Vincent de Paul is that people on a social welfare payment would need some support to pay the bills.
"Hence I got the agreement, willingly, with the Taoiseach with there being a payment of €100 water support payment.
"So if you deduct that from the previous figures that were being announced I would be very confident as I said before we will arrive at a modest charge and I regret the worry that people feel that they could face an extraordinary large bill," Ms Burton said.
She said the negotiations around capped charges have not concluded. "I wouldn't like to [give a timeline] because there has been no agreement.
"I think we would certainly be looking at a number of years but I wouldn't like to put absolute figure on it. Irish water is a really big project, to invest in a proper Irish water system.
"We should have done this when we were rich with the Celtic Tiger but we didn't so we do have to do it now. It's really important that we do," Ms Burton added.
"I think if there was a fault in Irish Water it was that the timeline was too ambitious," she said.
Ms Burton ruled out the eventual privatisation of the water utility as the debate continues on if a referendum should be held on keeping Irish Water in State hands.
"Regardless of whether there is a referendum or not let's be clear Irish Water is not for sale," she said.
"I can understand that a lot of people are attracted to the idea of a referendum. I think it should be examined to look at the pros and the cons," she added. "I know Labour Senators are in favour of discussing it," Ms Burton said.
Joan Burton interview: SEE PAGES 12-13