The Oireachtas committee looking at the funding of water has agreed to extend its work for a month to allow it to get legal advice.

Earlier, committee chairman Pádraig Ó Céidigh circulated a draft report on water funding, which runs to 32 pages and contains 119 recommendations/options.

The committee is discussing the report at present.

Key areas of difference include the approach taken to excess usage and also metering.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have maintained their different positions on the issue of excess water usage.

Fine Gael wants a charge for excessive usage which would be determined by the regulator.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney has said he will not bring in a court-based solution or bring forward legislation that contravenes European Union laws on the polluter-pays principle.

Fine Gael also favours further metering subject to cost analysis.

Fianna Fáil wants existing legislation to be used to fine those who use excessive amounts through the courts.

The party believes the 2007 Water Services Act can be strengthened or amended. It also opposes further domestic metering but favours district metering.

Mr Ó Céidigh recommends that the Government reviews the existing body of legislation to determine whether the "polluter pays" principle is adequately addressed or whether new or existing legislation is required to address excessive usage.

Committee members Thomas Pringle and Seamus Healy believe legislation should be examined.

Mr Ó Céidigh also proposes another option that there is no charge for normal water usage and one for excessive usage with medical exemptions.

Those who use excess amounts would be penalised and what quantifies as normal and excessive usage would be set by the regulator.

The chairman also listed an option of introducing an excessive water charge with a similar objective as the plastic bag levy.

It would not be a sustainable revenue source over the long term but instead drive a conservationist policy agenda.

Users would have a grace period of at least two quarters to reduce leakage below the appropriate threshold.

The grace period could be extended with the approval of Irish water.

Mr Ó Céidigh recommends that installed domestic meters should be retained as an essential tool for gathering data and assessing usage.

He also recommends that all new dwellings should be legally required to have water meters installed.

Labour proposed a charge for excessive use with it determined through household meters.

Another option cited in the draft report is to impose a penalty on those who use excessive amounts of water and an allowance should be provided for those who require extra water due to medical or other acceptable reasons.

This option was proposed by independent TD Noel Grealish.

There are differences amongst some members on whether EU laws require Ireland to have some form of charges.

The AAA-PBP states administering an excessive charge would be more expensive than what such a charge would raise.

Mr Pringle stated it cannot be applied to all homes as they have not all been metered.

Different positions on those who paid

There are a number of options listed regarding those who paid their water charges.

The chairman states they should be compensated in an equitable manner.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Green Party favour refunds, though Fianna Fáil wants the conservation grant deducted.

Fine Gael in principle favours pursuing those who have not paid but is open to getting an agreed position in the wider context of all other issues.

Overall the committee agrees that general taxation should pay for domestic water.

It also suggests that Dáil select committee on budgetary oversight explore all feasible options for the ringfencing of water funding over a multi-annual budgetary cycle.

The proposal by the chairman may require legislation.

He also looks at whether Irish Water commercial loan facilities should be reviewed and replaced with State lending facilities by arrangement with the National Treasury Management Agency where possible.

He recommends that the Government should review Irish Water's future borrowing requirements and consider replacing them with exchequer funding.

He adds that Irish Water should not raise its funding from private commercial markets.