Oversight body notes ‘disappointing drop-off’ in leak repairs by Irish Water

Water Advisory Borad says utility firm yet to submit date for fixing nine problematic supplies

Greater clarity on Irish Water’s ‘remedial action list’ of problematic water supplies that pose the most risk to consumers is required, the Water Advisory Body (WAB) has said.

Greater clarity on Irish Water’s ‘remedial action list’ of problematic water supplies that pose the most risk to consumers is required, the Water Advisory Body (WAB) has said.

 

Greater clarity on Irish Water’s “remedial action list” of problematic water supplies that pose the most risk to consumers is required, the Water Advisory Body (WAB) has said.

In its latest report, the board acknowledges progress was made last year but says there were nine water supplies on the remedial action list at the end of the year “for which Irish Water had not submitted a completion date”.

The list drawn, up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a register of public water supplies with the most serious deficiencies. Irish Water is required to take corrective action to ensure the safety and security of the supplies.

There was a net reduction of 146,475 consumers served by supplies on the remedial list at the end of last year, but just over a million consumers continue to access water supplies deemed to be in need of remedial action.

The board also expressed disappointment with “continued and disappointing drop-off” in the number of leak repairs completed under Irish Water’s first fix scheme since 2016 – the service is provided free of charge to customers.

The board is a statutory body which advises the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government on measures needed to improve transparency and accountability in Irish Water, and monitors progress on its investment.

Constant flow

The first fix scheme offers free leak investigations and free repairs for qualifying properties where a constant flow of water is found on the external water supply pipe. The board anticipates the introduction of the Household Water Conservation (Excess Use Charges) Policy this year – with first bills expected to issue in late next year or in 2023 – will encourage customers to avail of the scheme and that higher numbers of leak repairs will be achieved in the future.

It welcomed Irish Water exceeding its replacement of lead connections target but pointed out that plans to replace only 7 per cent of remaining public side lead connections by 2024 meant it was unlikely to meet its target to replace all lead services by 2026.

At the end of the fourth quarter of last year, 1,335 people were on boil water notices, a significant decrease from 14,951 people at the end of the previous quarter.

Paul McGowan, the board’s chairman, welcomed the publication by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities of “challenging but achievable targets” for Irish Water in terms of capital and operating expenditure efficiency and the delivery of outputs and outcomes in the public interest.

Mr McGowan added: “It continues to be the WAB’s view that the management and improvement of the drinking and wastewater infrastructure and network requires significant and sustained action, across a range of areas. It remains our view that increasing public confidence in Irish Water is dependent on visible action in areas such as wastewater treatment, water quality and leakage.”