Ervia, the multi-utility company and parent of Irish Water, has today published a business plan for the utility up to 2021 that will bring Ireland’s national water infrastructure to an acceptable level after decades of underinvestment through a fragmented industry structure.

The plan will deliver a quality service to customers while addressing the constrained funding model and fragmented service delivery that has had such a damaging effect on Ireland’s water infrastructure over many decades. This will be achieved by continuing to develop a customer led national utility that will provide services and invest in its assets on a national basis in a structured, strategic and sustainable way.

Delivery of the Irish Water Business Plan will bring about a €5.5bn investment in capital spending on drinking water quality and capacity, wastewater quality and capacity and new infrastructure up to 2021. The plan also sets out €1.1bn in operational efficiencies that will be achieved through reducing the cost of repairs and maintenance, payroll, energy, contracting and existing industry overheads.

By 2021 the business will reduce staff numbers by 1,500 from 2014 levels. It will deliver water services to customers in line with best utility practices, achieving significant efficiencies.

Speaking at a business stakeholders briefing this morning Ervia’s Chief Executive Michael McNicholas set out the national strategic approach: “Our water and wastewater services are not fit for purpose to meet the needs of a modern society and economy. Much of the infrastructure is old and poorly maintained. Half of our water never makes it to the tap, we discharge untreated sewage onto our beaches, nearly 1 million people’s water supply is at risk and we don’t have enough capacity for our capital to grow. The European Court of Justice is pursuing Ireland for multiple failures to address the discharge of raw sewage into our environment. This cannot continue.
Having a single national utility is the only way to deliver the essential investment and transformation required between now and 2021. A utility model for water services has long been the norm across Europe, and is the norm in Ireland for other essential services such as electricity and gas.” said Mr McNicholas.

By 2021 the Irish Water Business Plan commits to:

  • Eliminating the risk of drinking water contamination for 940,000 people
  • Lifting all current boil water notices
  • Reducing leakage from 49% to 38% - saving 180 million litres every day
  • Implementing a national lead strategy to reduce risk of contamination in up to 140,000 homes and an additional 40,000 homes on shared services
  • Ending the discharge of untreated wastewater at 44 locations
  • Significantly increasing water and wastewater capacity to support social and economic development.

John Tierney Managing Director of Irish Water said, “We are determined to deliver on these ambitious targets in order to provide our customers with the modern water and wastewater services that Ireland needs. We are transforming the delivery model for water services and at the same time we are bringing about the much needed improvement in infrastructure. We will be giving customers better service, delivered more efficiently, no matter where they live in Ireland.”

Since Irish Water was established it has made considerable progress towards achieving its 2021 targets including:

  • Removed 20,000 people from Boil Water Notices
  • Increased the headroom (spare water capacity) for Dublin from 2% to 8%
  • Built nine new drinking water treatment plants and upgraded 18 
  • Provided new/upgraded waste treatment plants in Clonakilty, Carrigtwohill, Clifden, Leixlip, Galway
  • Introduced a First Fix Programme to tackle 70,000 customer leaks. We have already saved 18 million litres and have a target 46 million litres of water per day
  • Built 250 km of new mains and replaced a similar length of existing mains 438 to save 32 million litres of water every day 
  • Developed a National Lead Strategy for the first time
  • Started work on the €91m Cork Lower Harbour Project
  • Produced an Integrated €73m plan for 8 major schemes in Donegal to resolve long-standing deficiencies in supplies, serving 90,000 people

Michael McNicholas said: “The provision of clean drinking water and the disposal of wastewater in a way that protects the environment is vital to our daily lives and for Ireland’s social and economic development. All major industries rely on an available supply of clean water and on the capacity to treat waste water to required environmental standards. As a country with abundant clean water resources this should be a source of strategic advantage to our country. The Irish Water Business Plan represents the first phase of investment and change to make this advantage a sustainable one for future generations.”

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