Statement on Water Charges

Fine Gael Cork South West Deputy Jim Daly, has said that the creation of a new independent, State-owned company, Irish Water, will radically reform the management of our water infrastructure and reduce the amount of water that is currently being wasted.

“Water is a very precious commodity and one that is under threat. At present more than 40% of our water is being lost through leaks; a fact that cannot continue to be ignored. Added to this is the reality that our current funding model is unsustainable and needs to be updated.

“The recent announcement by the Government that a publically owned water company is being set up as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis fulfils our commitment under the Troika agreement to establish a national water utility. It will also help create an additional 2,000 jobs during the water meter installation phase.

“Assigning responsibility of Irish Water to an existing semi-State company, Bord Gáis, will have a number of advantages; the company already has a track record in raising finance and in operating as a utility in a regulated environment. It also has a wealth of experience in customer relations, network management and metering.

“The management of our water infrastructure currently falls to 34 separate local authorities. This means that our structures are fragmented and we are unable to achieve real economies of scale. We all want the best quality water possible for the people of West Cork and throughout Ireland; if this is to be achieved we cannot, as the last country in the EU and the OECD to charge domestic consumers for water, continue to kick this issue down the road.

“While the introduction of new charges is never easy, it is important to note that a free allowance will be given to every household in the country and charges will not be imposed until 2014. There will also be no upfront charge for household meters. In the same way as is the case with other utilities, bills will be issued to householders several times a year and a variety of payment options will be available. In relation to supply’s being cut off I will certainly be conveying to the Cabinet that this cannot be allowed to happen and Irish Water will have to work with people who can demonstrate clearly that they cannot afford to pay. It is also important to note that there will be no charges for any households supplied by private wells or Group Schemes.

“The Government recognises the hardship the Irish people have faced and in a bid to ensure our country is not dependent on an unsustainable source of revenue for funding and that we never again find ourselves in this situation are working hard to broaden our tax base while giving people certainty about their take home pay