19 November 2014 Go back to News
Irish Water welcomes publication of Government’s Water Charges Package
Irish Water, and its parent company Ervia, have today welcomed the Government’s announcement on water charges, saying that it has given much needed clarity to the public.
Commenting following the publication of the package Michael McNicholas, Chief Executive of Ervia said, “We acknowledge that Irish Water has not achieved sufficient public trust and confidence in our first year of operation, and that we have made mistakes that contributed to that. We welcome the Government announcement today which provides certainty for people and an opportunity for us to address many of the issues that have caused concern.”
“We now have a clear charging system; we have removed the requirement to submit PPS numbers. Ervia has decided not to pay 2013 and 2014 performance related awards (PRA) to Irish Water employees; the pay model will be independently reviewed.
“There has been considerable concern raised by the public in relation to all of these matters. We did not get it right and we have not met the needs or the expectations of the Irish public and for that I unreservedly apologise.”
Mr McNicholas said that Ireland’s national water service is not fit for purpose. He said:
- The water supply to nearly 900,000 people is at risk of disruption or contamination;
- Over 20,000 homes have contaminated water which is unsafe to drink and must be boiled before people use it;
- The raw sewage of 42 communities across Ireland is pumped into the environment every day;
- Almost 50% of our waste water facilities do not meet required environmental standards and as a country we have been served with formal notice by the European Court of Justice which could result in substantial fines;
- The water supply to our capital city is barely capable of serving the city and does not provide for population growth or economic growth;
- We lose up to 48% of expensively treated public water through leaks;
“This is not a sustainable way to deliver essential services. We run the risk of not having the necessary infrastructure and water capacity to meet basic needs for our society or to support longer term economic growth. This is the challenge that Irish Water was set up to address,” Mr McNicholas concluded.
The costs are clear with the maximum charge for a single adult home capped at €160 and the maximum charge for a multi adult home capped at €260. Furthermore there is a €100 water conservation grant for every primary residence.
John Tierney, Managing Director of Irish Water said, “Irish Water has had a very difficult first year, and we have not responded quickly enough to legitimate concerns on a number of issues. I apologise for that. Our sole focus now is on ensuring Irish Water and its vitally important national project of improving our water services secures public support, and becomes a service of which the country can be proud. We know we need to work to gain public trust and have made a start on some very necessary measures, for example:
- We will no longer ask customers to give us their PPS numbers.
- We will remove PPS numbers currently held. We are in consultation with the Data Protection Commissioner on this.
- Additional staff and resources have been deployed to the customer call centre.
- We will ensure it is simple for people to register with us. The new form is available today on water.ie.
Mr Tierney said Irish Water’s core objective is to improve Ireland’s water infrastructure. The company is already making progress on many significant improvements:
- This year alone we will invest over €340 million in improving water services around the country.
- Boil water notices will be down from over 20,000 to just 5,000 by next Summer.
- We have taken action to ensure that 12,000 people in Roscommon will soon have clean drinking water.
- Our metering programme is yielding results. One example is we have found 22 houses leaking a total of 1 million litres of water a day – enough to supply the town of Gorey.
- We are replacing lead pipes that have existed for decades in places like Limerick, Tralee, Clare and Cork.
- Major waste water treatments projects are now in construction in many locations including, Youghal, Carrigtwohill, Clifden, Bunclody, Killybegs, Clonakilty and Waterford.
“Our job now is to continue to make long overdue improvements to our water services and to win the confidence of the public in the process’’ said Mr Tierney.