Water services funds not spent

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said local authorities failed to spend ?34 million on water services last years. Photograph: David Sleator.

Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said local authorities failed to spend ?34 million on water services last years. Photograph: David Sleator.

Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 00:00

Local authorities are refusing to spend money on water services in advance of the setting up of the State’s new water authority, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has said.

Speaking at the Oireachtas sub-committee on public expenditure and reform, Mr Howlin said councils had failed to spend €34 million in the area last year.

This was largely because they did not want to provide funding form their own resources in advance of responsibility for water services being transferred to the new State entity Irish Water, he said.

News of the under spend comes in the wake of an Engineers Ireland report which this week revealed that more than 50 per cent of water is lost through leakage in some local authority areas, because of inadequate infrastructure.

The report found at least 1 per cent of the pipe network needs be replaced every year.

Mr Howlin said the situation had angered Minister for Environment Phil Hogan, who he said had strongly urged local authorities to spend the available money last year.

“It is something we will have to take a view on” Mr Howlin told the committee.

Mr Howlin told TDs and Senators some €107 million was to be carried over from the 2012 budget and was available to be spent this year. He said some €43 million of this would go to the Department of Environment.

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