Speaking at the launch of the report on Sustainable and Clean Water Provision by the Joint Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Committee Chairman Ciarán Lynch T.D., today said that the new Irish water utility must remain in public ownership and must be accountable through the Oireachtas.
“The Committee identified a clean and sustainable, fair and just water supply as a priority. Water Provision in Ireland is at a critical stage. Ireland needs a long-term sustainable supply of clean water for domestic use, for healthy living, for developmental and recreational use. The resource is limited and failure to take action will have significant societal and environmental consequences.
“Clearly there are challenges in terms of planning for a fair and just water supply, providing adequate infrastructure and delivering and maintaining a clean and sustainable water system.
“This is the reality we have to deal with and it is in this context that the Joint Committee presents this Report which makes a series of important observations and recommendations on the issues.”
Among the report’s key findings are:
· Irish Water must remain in public ownership.
· There should be one national tariff for water, as is the case with other utilities, applied across the entire country
· A waiver system should be put in place to protect low-income and struggling households.
· As water consumption may vary due to certain factors, a fair and just waiver scheme must take the following circumstances into account: household composition (age profile of residents), household size (combined household income) and medical conditions and disabilities which result in increased water usage.
· All profits from the new Irish water utility should be ring-fenced and reinvested to generate a sustainable clean water supply and waste infrastructure that is highly regulated to guarantee excellent quality for the consumer.
· In the interest of water conservation, the new Irish water utility should operate one charge which will be inclusive of all service costs; i.e. freshwater and wastewater services.
· A grant scheme should be established to incentivise domestic water conservation.
· The roll out of water meters across the State should reflect the need to employ apprenticeships struggling to find the opportunity to complete their training.
· The ownership and maintenance of water meters should rest with the new Irish water utility.
· Meters should be ‘future proofed’ and have the facility to link in with SMART meters, remote access and other applications
· The new Irish Water utility must be open and transparent to consumers, be covered by Freedom of Information legislation and be required to appear and report to the relevant Oireachtas Committee.
· The current Commission for Energy Regulation should be strengthened to take on the regulation of the new Irish water utility. The Regulatory Authority must provide full details of the model it uses in setting the standard charge it implements.
· There must be a strong customer voice, whereby the new Irish water utility and its regulators will be obliged to consult, co-operate with and take account of the views of a statutory consumer-focused body, on water issues. The composition of its Board should make provision for a strong consumer representation.
· Mandatory leakage rates should be set regionally.
Read the report here: http://bit.ly/MKcV5b
Access a short video clip of Chairman Ciarán Lynch discussing report’s recommendations: http://youtu.be/U1ggLwnRalY