Irish Water’s 2015 Annual Report

Is out. Gavin Sheridan has an initial analysis here. Unsurprisingly, here’s what has happened to payments.



By Stephen Kinsella

Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Limerick.

2 replies on “Irish Water’s 2015 Annual Report”

It would be interesting to find out why it takes six and a half months to produce annual financial statements.

Perhaps it’s because IW is in the former Bord Gais stable and all of the semi-states are adept at publishing reams of waffle and numbers that are carefully structured and presented to conceal useful information from the public who ultimately own them – and this takes time. The exceptions occur when they want to highlight something over which they have have little or no control and which is upseting them. (The graph of the household quarterly payments falls in to this category.)

As usual there is a lack of key data (or they’re buried in other data), but it appears that the average household bill was around €180 for 2015. However, the cash collected suggests only around 60% of households on average paid this amount. The Department of Social Protection presumably has some data on how many households claimed the €100 “water conservation allowance”, as this would bring down the net cost to households. I expect there are some households who paid only some (or even none) of their annual bill and still claimed the allowance.

The operating expenditure is excessive by any standard. If the government hadn’t provided a subvention of €400 million in 2015 the actaul average household bill would be around €490 – which is close to the average bill in Britain. However, the annual depreciation charge and return on net assets are currently artifically low (IW got more than €7 billion of assets (as indicated by the CSO) as a gift). These annual capital charges will increase significantly over time as investments are made. Unless major operational efficiencies are achieved, the actual average household bill could head towards €700 over the next few years. And the annual subvention could head towards €1 billion – which isn’t far off the allocation from central funds before IW was established.

It required very particular skills and genius to generate a mess of this scale.

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