02/06/2011

Water Investment More Than 'Drip Feed'

The Republic of Ireland's continuing investment in improving its water services infrastructure - including the provision of €435 million being provided from the Exchequer this year to fund the ongoing investment in water services infrastructure - has been in focus.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan this week addressed a conference at Croke Park, Dublin on the water metering programme.

The Minister spoke of Irish water services infrastructure and Government investment in the area and said that such investment is required not only to expand infrastructural capacity, but also to upgrade the water supply distribution network to tackle uneconomic levels of leakage, improve operational efficiency and comply with EU directives.

The Minister continued by stressing the importance of water metering for conservation purposes.

Minister Hogan also noted that water metering would allow detection of water leakage and said that the Greater Dublin Water Project estimated that customer side leakage may be as high as 65 litres per property per day but more recent studies in Dublin suggest that customer side leakage could, in some locations, be significantly higher.

The installation of water meters will ensure that these leaks can be identified and fixed," he said - and add a boost for the beleaguered plumbing sector of the building trade.

"Moreover, it will lead to other environment benefits such as reduced abstractions from our rivers and lakes and in reduced carbon emissions from lower energy consumption.

"The domestic water metering programme, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government, will be a significant undertaking and I do not underestimate the work involved in delivering this commitment.

"However, I am confident that with the appropriate planning, careful preparation and effective implementation, the metering programme will be delivered in a timely and efficient manner," the Minister said.

The Minister also spoke of the establishment of a new State water company, 'Irish Water' and commented that the Government recognises that there is a need for a more fundamental shift in the way water services are organised and funded in Ireland.

"The Programme for Government also proposes the establishment of 'Irish Water', that is a priority for me but the transfer of functions from local authorities to the new company needs to be carefully managed.

"My Department is in the process of engaging consultants to undertake an assessment on the establishment of Irish Water. This assessment, which will be completed this year, will examine the optimum role of the company and will assist in defining the functions of the company."

The Minister concluded: "It is my intention that the installation of water meters under the metering programme will be underway early next year.

"The capital intensive nature of the installation of water meters to over one million households has the potential to offer significant employment potential over the next five years.

"The establishment of Irish Water and the roll out of the metering programme provide real opportunities to enhance the delivery of water services in Ireland."

(BMcC/GK)

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