Irish Water expects 80 per cent to pay charges

Ervia says utility company will invest €5.5bn in infrastructure over next seven years


Irish Water expects 80 per cent of households will pay their water bills in the coming years, despite a current compliance rate of about 51 per cent.

The company aims to generate €2 billion revenue from residential customers by 2021 with a further €2 billion coming from business customers along with €3.8 billion in State subventions.

Ervia chief executive Michael McNicholas said bills would not increase for customers in the next few years. However, he said the €2 billion residential figure is predicated on the compliance rate increasing to 80 per cent.

Irish Water is to cut 1,200 jobs by 2021, under a business plan published Wednesday morning by parent company Ervia.

The company hopes to save €1.1 billion across areas including payroll, energy and contracting. Ervia said Irish Water will invest €5.5 billion on water infrastructure over the next seven years.

The 1,200 jobs that will go between now and 2021 are in addition to 300 jobs shed last year.

Trade union Impact said it could consider industrial action over the planned job cuts, adding that agreements were in place with the Government protecting against compulsory lay-offs.

“Over the lifetime of these agreements it is envisaged that the number of staff required would be reduced, but this latest plan seeks to arbitrarily reduce the number without considering the operational issues that are likely to emerge,” said the union’s national secretary Peter Nolan.

“We do not see how the proposed level of staff reductions can be achieved within existing agreements. We will engage with the employer but we cannot rule out industrial action if agreement can’t be reached.”

The utility company was overstaffed when the water services of local authorities were amalgamated during its creation.

“Having a single national utility is the only way to deliver the essential investment and transformation required between now and 2021. A utility model for water services has long been the norm across Europe, and is the norm in Ireland for other essential services such as electricity and gas,” Mr McNicholas said in a statement.

The business plan says that by 2021 the company will have: eliminated the risk of drinking water contamination for 940,000 people; lifted all current boil water notices; reduced leakage from 49 per cent to 38 per cent; reduced the risk of lead contamination in up to 140,000 homes and ended the discharge of untreated wastewater at 44 locations.