Your national water utility responsible for providing and developing water services throughout Ireland
Incorporated in July, 2013 as a company under the Water Services Act 2013, Irish Water brought water and wastewater services of the 31 local authorities together under one national service provider. We are responsible for the operation of all public water and wastewater services including:
- Management of national water and wastewater assets
- Maintenance of the water and wastewater system
- Investment and planning
- Managing capital projects
- Customer care and billing
We are also responsible for all of the capital investment decisions and implementation of the capital programme delivery across the country.
Safeguarding Our Water
Water is one of our most valuable resources and essential for sustaining life. It has shaped our landscape, dictated the location of our cities, protected our health and fuelled our economic development in Ireland. For a long time, Ireland’s water network has served us reasonably well, but it now faces serious challenges. By improving water conservation and working together, we can ensure sustainable water services for Ireland into the future.
Transforming the Delivery of Water Services
Access to clean water and effective management of wastewater is a requirement for a modern society. However, clean water is expensive to produce and deliver. It is a complex process to turn the water from our rivers, lakes and groundwater (raw water) into clean and drinking water and deliver it safely to each customer’s tap. Wastewater must then be collected and treated before it can be reintroduced safely back into our environment.
The water services which each customer receives require significant funding for both the operation of the existing treatment plants and pipe networks and for investment in maintaining existing infrastructure and providing new infrastructure for water services. The creation of Irish Water has, for the first time, enabled a transformation of the way that water services are delivered in Ireland. It can now effectively and efficiently address the many issues and risks to delivering water services. Despite the work of the local authorities over the last 130 years, substantially more investment is needed across the country to address weaknesses in the current systems, including high leakage rates, varying drinking water quality standards, disruptions to supply and unacceptable wastewater discharges.
Cleaner, safer drinking water
In our two largest cities of Dublin and Cork, we continue to rely heavily on 19th century systems which are no longer fit for purpose. Outside our major urban centres, our water network is fragmented with many small and vulnerable water sources. Water quality does not meet European and Irish drinking water standards in many of our schemes and up to 30% of water treatment plants are considered to be “at risk” of failure in terms of quality parameters and we also losing almost half of the water we produce to leakage.
Effective Management of Wastewater
Wastewater must be collected and treated before it is returned to the environment. Wastewater treatment is not at the required standard in 38 of our larger urban areas with 44 areas discharging raw sewage. Many of our combined sewers are frequently overloaded during periods of heavy rain resulting in the flooding of some properties and giving rise to overflows which can cause pollution within our rivers and streams.
Supporting social and economic growth
The welcome return of economic growth brings a requirement for additional capacity to support housing development, together with offices, factories and commercial buildings supporting jobs. This growth is currently hampered by a limited system capacity for water and wastewater and is one of the constraints to be overcome if housing needs are to be met in the Greater Dublin Area.
In discharging its role as the national water services utility, responsible for water services operations and investment, Irish Water is regulated by:
- The economic regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) which is charged with protecting the interests of the customer, while approving an appropriate funding requirement sufficient to enable the utility to deliver the required services to specified standards in an efficient manner; and
- The environmental regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets standards and enforces compliance with EU and National Regulations for drinking water supply and wastewater discharge to water bodies. The EPA liaises with the Health Services Executive in matters of public health.
Our Legal Context
Irish Water will plan, develop and operate our water service functions in line with the requirements of prevailing relevant national and European legislation. Relevant legislation includes multiple statutes, regulations and European directives. Some of the most pertinent legislation in the context of the operations covered by this plan include the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, the Drinking Water Directive, the Water Framework Directive, the Birds and Habitats Directives and our obligations under the Aarhus Convention in terms of European legislation and the Water Services Acts, 2007-2014, Water Supplies Act, 1942, the Planning and Development Act, 2000, European Union (Drinking Water) Regulations 2014 and Wastewater Discharge (Authorisation) Regulations 2007 in terms of national legislation.
Irish Water is a subsidiary company of Ervia (formerly known as Bord Gáis Éireann). Ervia is a commercial semi-state company delivering water and gas infrastructure and services for Ireland, providing modern utility services to support economic development. Establishing Irish Water involved the creation of the required organisation, management systems and processes to manage the water services assets, drawing on the experience and expertise of Bord Gáis Éireann, as a modern efficient and customer focused energy utility.
Irish Water was established pursuant to the Water Services Act 2013 and is a designated activity company, limited by shares. Irish Water has two shareholders, Ervia and the Irish Government. The ultimate shareholder of Irish Water is the Irish Government and, on that basis, Irish Water is a state-owned entity.
The mechanisms whereby Irish Water’s employees and management may raise concerns, or make disclosures in the public interest, in accordance with the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, is outlined in the Ervia Group Protected Disclosures Policy which is available at Protected Disclosures Policy.
Section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 requires Irish Water to publish an Annual Report relating to protected disclosures made under the Act.
Irish Water has an Executive Board comprising six members. The current members are:
- Cathal Marley (Chairman and Ervia Group CEO)
- Eamon Gallen (General Manager Irish Water)
- Niall Gleeson (Managing Director Irish Water )
- Yvonne Harris (Irish Water)
- Brendan Murphy (Ervia)
- Maria O’Dwyer (Irish Water)
The Board of Ervia consists of ten non-executive members (including the Chairman), who are appointed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
The Board of Ervia is committed to achieving the highest standards of corporate governance and ethical business conduct.