The Irish Times ran a series on water services in Ireland.
The first article is perhaps the most interesting. It leaks the yet-to-be-published report on the water sector by PWC. PWC will apparently be fairly critical of the current system, which nicely fits with the plans by the Minister for a radical overhaul. There will be more investment in water infrastructure. There will be a water regulator. Word on the street has that the Commission for Energy Regulation will have its mandate extended to water (but not to transport). There will be national water utility. Bord Gais, Bord na Mona and the National Roads Authority are bidding to run Irish Water. Only Bord Gais has experience in mass retail.
The piece discusses the transfer of Shannon water to Dublin, but the Minister disappears from the story at that point. I would think that we first want to promote water conservation and fix the leaks.
The piece is silent on the future role of the county councils in water. If Irish Water runs the show, what will happen to the water infrastructure owned by the county councils? What will happen to the civil servants who run this?
Another article wonders what will happen to the private water schemes. Will they be nationalized? Will households with a private well and a septic tank have to pay the water charges? That would be grossly unfair.
The inspection fees for septic tanks are unfair too. Us city folk poo for free — or rather, waste water services are covered from general tax revenues. That is, septic tank owners pay for urban waste water, but city dwellers do not pay for rural waste water.
The second main piece is on drinking water quality, the problems with which are typically overlooked even though they are serious.
The third main article is on water meters. It is summarized in an editorial, and repeats a number of points I made in August. My main concern is the plan for the centralized roll out of water meters. I think that it makes more sense to have people install their own meters and let these meters use the same communication network as the smart electricity and gas meters. See the discussion here.
Conor Pope cites 1000 euro per household per year. I said that. If we maintain the current spending on water (incl. investment), if we keep the business rates for water as they are, and if we exempt those on private schemes from the water charges, then full cost recovery (as required by EU legislation) implies an annual charge of 500 euro per household per year.