Irish Water outlines overall plan for Ireland’s water services and how the national utility will deliver savings and benefits to water users

During a scheduled appearance today before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture & the Gaeltacht, Irish Water provided a progress update and outlined its plans for addressing the challenges in delivering water services and how a new approach will transform the service into one that meets the needs of our communities, protects the environment and supports economic development. This is against the backdrop of the recent Engineers Ireland Report which rates Ireland’s water services infrastructure as below standard and requiring significant investment.

Detailed information was provided to the Committee to address the following key areas:
 

  1. How Irish Water will tackle the problems that exist in Ireland’s water services and what difference this will make to people
  2. The major plans that Irish Water will be engaged in during 2014

Specifically Irish Water outlined its commitment to delivering the following: 

  1. Improving Drinking Water Quality: The first priority is to tackle boil water notices. At present, almost 19,000 people have to boil water to ensure it is safe to use and Irish Water has prioritised this issue and resourced a specialist team to significantly reduce the number of households on boil water notices by over two thirds by end 2014. In addition, Irish Water is examining options to be able to fast track water treatment when customers are impacted in this way in the future. 
     
  2. Increasing Drinking Water Capacity: As an interim measure while Irish Water develops long term solutions to water capacity issues across the country, particularly in Dublin, Irish Water will have a dedicated programme focused on maximising production from existing plants and accelerating leakage savings. In Dublin, this will deliver annual incremental increases in spare water capacity of 1-2% up to 2021 which will ensure that the capital’s water supply increases in line with population growth and economic demands. It is intended that the major source project for Dublin will come on line from 2021 delivering secure supply in line with international best practice.
     
  3. Ensuring Wastewater Treatment Compliance: Treatment plants servicing the majority of our opulations are currently non-compliant with the Water Framework Directive. Irish Water’s focus is to develop credible plans across the country that will give the greatest environmental benefit allowing Ireland to reach agreement with the EU that will help avoid fines.
     
  4. Delivering Wastewater Capacity: In tandem with addressing the supply issue, the deficiency in wastewater treatment capacity will also be addressed, with a phased upgrade of the Ringsend treatment plant plus support for the Greater Dublin Drainage Project to follow by 2020.
     
  5. Planned Asset Improvement Scheme: Irish Water will take a national view across the full asset base and will invest regularly to maintain asset condition and the level of service to customers. This investment will be done on a risk basis across the system as a whole, rather than in 34 separate areas. Therefore every euro invested will deliver where it is needed most.

Additional 2014 Initiatives

As Irish Water continues in its establishment phase, the following initiatives will also be delivered in 2014:

  • Publication of Irish Water Strategic Plan (25 years to 2040): there will be a broad public and stakeholder engagement programme as part of the development of this strategy which is intended to set out the vision and objectives for the business.
  • Investment Plan 2014-2016: This plan is currently being finalised and will be submitted to the CER for approval in early March.
  • Regulatory Price Control – Investment Plan 2016-2021: Work will commence on the regulatory submission for the first full regulatory cycle which runs from 2016-2021. This plan will include a detailed study and projections for investment in water assets to support the Water Framework Directive up to 2021 and the proposed socio-economic plan that will replace the current National Spatial Strategy.

 

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