Householders in Northern Ireland are already paying an average of £160 a year towards their water, Assembly Members have been told.
The revelation came as it was confirmed legislation is to be introduced to ensure direct water charges are not introduced here for at least a further three years.
That is a commitment made in the Stormont Executive’s four-year Programme for Government.
But quizzed yesterday by independent MLA David McNarry, Department for Regional Development (DRD) officials admitted a breakdown of the regional rate shows the average figure of £160.
And senior official John Mills said the annual subsidy of £292m a year to Northern Ireland Water to offset water charges was likely to remain in and around the same level for the next three years.
There is no direct figure for the amount allocated to water from the regional rate. But it was estimated that around £110m went towards water supplies — the equivalent of £160 per household.
Mr McNarry said: “We may have postponed the issue for the next three years but it’s not going away. I don’t believe my constituents are going to be happy but at least they have this information.”
The legislation, expected to be ratified next month, will end the anomaly that responsibility for drinking water inspection is split between DRD and the Department of the Environment.
In future DoE will have sole responsibility.