Friday, May 10, 2013

Water Services Bill: Privatization and Charges

I think there is an enormous amount of naivety surrounding the future of Irish Water and water charges which probably has not been clarified by the recent passing of the Water Services Bill. First is that it is inevitable that the private sector will take an increasingly significant role in managing and providing water services in Ireland which will lead inevitably to privatization. The current situation of paying companies to operate water and sewage treatment facilities does not make long term sense as the investment in plants is simply not being made. Also the lack of a coherent and suitable training as well as the absence of a career structure in the industry needs to be addressed and this is probably best served by privatization. There are few companies with the experience to take on a sector of this magnitude and so it is obvious that one of the major European water companies would be best suited.

The second area of naivety surrounds water charges. What is the charge for exactly? The current suggestion of €300-350 as an average seems to be for water supply…in other countries there are two charges one for supplying water and another for taking it away after you have used it for treatment and finally disposal. So inevitably water charges contain two separate elements. So will you only pat half of the water charge if you have a home treatment system? It would appear that we should expect a second charge for wastewater bringing the expected total bill to around €500-750 per household which would be similar to that in the UK. This is something that I would like to see clarified.