Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Water Services

Minister Phil Hogan
On November 4th 2013 Dublin City Councillors unanimously backed a Fiánna Fáil motion on the water crisis facing the capital. The motion called for the Environment Minister and executives from Irish Water to come before the City Council to outline their plans for a new water source and other infrastructure improvements required to secure the water supply in Dublin City.

Today the Chief Executive Officer of Irish Water informed Dublin City Councillors that Irish Water is unable to brief elected representatives on the “arrangements” to transition essential water services from Local Authorities to Irish Water. The Chief Executive also indicated that he is awaiting the Minister’s publication of the primary legislation (Water Services Bill 2) to clarify the roles and responsibilities of Irish water.

The lack of clarity and transparency around Irish Water is extremely concerning. It is totally unacceptable that less than five weeks from the proposed transition of water services from Dublin City Council to Irish Water not even Irish Water, the super quango set-up to manage water services, has clarity on its roles and responsibilities.

The 2014 budget for water services in Dublin City alone is more than €130million. It is unbelievable that public spend of this magnitude would be managed in such a slipshod manner. It is imperative that the Minister acknowledges the enormity of his proposal to transfer water services from local authorities to Irish Water and postpones the transition date until all stakeholders have had a chance to review the legislation and put in place robust and adequate plans.

The Minister needs to recognise that at any time Dublin City uses 99% of all the water it produces and with a spare capacity of just 1% the slightest mishap can disrupt supply. Security of supply is always at greatest risk during winter months. Dublin City has already suffered two water restrictions this year, we cannot afford another.

It would be reckless to try to proceed with the transition of water services within such a short time frame and the Minister should postpone the transition until a proper project plan is in place and signed-off by all stakeholders. Mary