Govt capital spending cut of €750M in water will end up costing taxpayer dearly
The water disruption experienced by large parts of Cork this week, as a result of a break in the Inniscarra water main, is further evidence of the pressing need for investment in water infrastructure and for a new semi-State water company to take responsibility for our water supply, according to Fine Gael Cork South Central Senator Jerry Buttimer.
“Large parts of Cork were left without access to water in their homes and businesses yesterday owing to major damage to the Inniscarra water main. The problems associated with restoring supply to some areas meant that residents were forced to draw their water from tinkered supplies set up locally.
“While the disruption was nowhere near the scale seen following last year’s floods, the continual interruption in Cork’s water supply points to the pressing need for the upgrading of our water system and investment in water infrastructure. Instead what we get from Government is a €750 million cut in the water investment programme which will end up costing the taxpayer a fortune in fines and leakage.
“This reduction of €750 million compared to what was pledged in the National Development Plan will see our water infrastructure continue to leak water at an alarming rate. It was only months ago that it was revealed that parts of the country suffer a 50% leakage rate. Now, instead of plugging this, the Government has slashed funding without putting in place alternative funding mechanisms like a semi-State water utility company, as proposed by Fine Gael. As a result Ireland is at serious danger of suffering fines for breaches of the EU Water Directive.
“Fine Gael proposed a better way in our NewERA plan that would allow the country to make savings while at the same time improving the quality of our water. We want to see responsibility for investment in critical water infrastructure transferred into a new semi-State water company, Irish Water, that would take huge borrowing commitments off the Government books.
“This water company would be better placed to make efficiency savings rather than having 34 local authorities fight over scarce resources. The ESRI already backs the Fine Gael approach and, instead of hurting the Irish taxpayer, Fianna Fáil and the Greens should adopt the FG plan. Interrupted access to a clean water supply that doesn’t cost the earth is the least the people of Cork, and the rest of Ireland, deserve.”