Water crisis: who’s to blame?

 

Sir, – The bottom line here is that on the seventh day of this ongoing debacle Irish Water still thinks it is acceptable to force its customers to travel to distribution points, which are few and far between, bringing their own containers, to collect water which we are advised is not fit for consumption unless boiled.

It’s hard enough for those of us with access to suitable containers and transport, and the capacity to carry enough water to fill a toilet cistern, cook something, wash up and keep ourselves and our families half clean. It’s a nightmare for everyone else: the old, unwell, etc.

Are Irish Water and the local and national authorities aware that bottled water is widely available (except, obviously, in shops in the northeast)? Has nobody involved thought that maybe their customers/ constituents are entitled to have this delivered to their doorsteps as a substitute for the most basic service to which they are currently being denied?

The incompetence we may be used to, but the sheer contempt is still hard to stomach. – Yours, etc,

JOSEPH KEARNEY,

Baltray, Co Louth.

Sir, – Like your columnist Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, July 25th) I was “one of the eejits” who paid her water charges. However, as someone who hasn’t had a shower in five days, I have just one suggestion for the €178 million rebate on our water charges.

I’m not sure if it would qualify as exciting or innovative, which Fintan O’Toole is seeking. But I’m pretty sure it would be a compassionate idea for all who may meet me. How about spending the money on an up-to-date water system? – Yours, etc,

REGINA CLARKE,

Drogheda, Co Louth.

Sir, – As one affected by the water outage in Drogheda, how should I seek to be compensated for the out of pocket expenses (bottled water, launderette, etc) incurred?

Under the previous system I could withhold my payment to Irish Water until a compromise was reached, but now that our water is funded by “general taxation” this is a little more problematic.

Should I as a taxpayer seek to withhold my PAYE contribution? Could my Irish Water refund be beefed up accordingly? Should Drogheda become a low-tax, VAT-free zone?

Perhaps Deputy Paul Murphy and his ilk could explain how this could work to us taxpaying, law-abiding, fools? – Yours, etc,

RORY J WHELAN,

Drogheda, Co Louth.

Sir, – Even though I am living in the town centre of Drogheda, I am lucky that my water supply has as yet not been affected by the catastrophic leak at the Staleen water treatment plant, in Donore, Co Meath.

The handling of the water issue by all the major political parties has been a disgrace. Deciding to charge the Irish public for water and offering a conservation grant as a sweetener followed by the setting up of an “expert” group to decide on the future funding model borders on the farcical. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

Irish Water is a joke. It tried to tax us in the Republic and it has to source a bespoke part and tankers in Northern Ireland. One word: unbelievable. – Yours, etc,

JOHN CLUNE,

Drogheda, Co Louth.

A chara, – Derek McHugh (Letters, July 26th) completely misses the lesson from the water fiasco in the north-east.

Water infrastructure in Ireland does indeed need investment and maintenance, which requires funding. A very good start to that investment process would have been the €1 billion-plus that the previous government decided to waste on meters, consultants, PR, bonuses and “conservation grants” in order to sustain Irish Water.

That is money that should have been invested in our water infrastructure and not in pushing the ideology of selling water.

The US supreme court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote that “taxes are what we pay for civilised society”. By any measure, a civilised society would include a functioning water system. Not in Ireland, apparently, where taxes are what we pay to cover the cost of bank bailouts and politicians’ wages. A civilised society will cost you extra. – Is mise,

SIMON O’CONNOR,

Dublin 12.

Sir, – In a country with a banjaxed water infrastructure, as tens of thousands of households and businesses near one week without mains water, the national water utility prepares to give back over €200 million paid for water.

Who’s next for no water? Who’s next for boil water? Who likes swimming through sewage? We are indeed “all Jobstown now”. Warmest congratulations to Paul Murphy. – Yours, etc,

DECLAN DOYLE,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – The managing director of Irish Water has stated that many water mains are made of asbestos cement mixture (ACM) and were old and brittle. Recently a relative of mine paid €850 to properly dispose of a few sheets of ACM from the roof of an old garden shed because of the dangers to health from asbestos.

Are we to believe there is no such danger when millions of gallons of water flow through asbestos piping to consumers? If there is a danger, then our water charges protesters have managed to postpone indefinitely the replacement of such pipes. But then perhaps the asbestos scare was just an expensive scare and no more. – Yours, etc,

TONE SCOTT,

Tramore,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – The biggest crisis that Irish Water faces is the arbitrary way in which central government allocates public resources.

Minister for Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy needs to address major weaknesses identified by a 2013 Council of Europe report on local democracy in lreland. This report noted “the system of distribution of grants to local governments from the local government fund is not transparent and the rules have been set without consultation with local authorities. The equalisation formula existed for a short period only, because it included about 800 parameters and was not operable in reality. From 2008 onwards, equalisation has been done on the basis of an administrative assessment of needs and resources. . . . the equalisation system remains a mystery to practically everyone in the local government system.”

I have no doubt that we face more whimsical responses to other water supply and other issues, which are due to decades of incompetence at central government levels. – Yours, etc,

DONAL Ó BROLCÁIN,

Dublin 9.

A chara, – The current water crisis in the north-east seems to have given rise to much finger wagging at Paul Murphy TD and the water charge protesters of the far left, with a rush to say, “We told you so”.

While I don’t agree with much of Mr Murphy’s platform and am in favour of water charges in principle, it seems that the supporters of our establishment parties are very keen to claim the moral high ground.

It is vitally important that we remember that it was not Paul Murphy or the alphabet alliance that ruined our water system but decades of populist politics and under-investment from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour.

We may be short on water, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. – Is mise,

STEPHEN ADAM,

Dublin 5.