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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Irish Water to split from Ervia within five years

The water body is to become a standalone utility by the year 2023.

1/11/2013 Water Meters Installations Protests Source: Laura Hutton/Rollingnews.ie

WATER BODY IRISH Water is to split from its parent company, semi-state Ervia, and operate as a standalone utility within five years.

The move is expected to save many million so euro per year, but will also put some jobs at risk.

“Given the change in funding and need for enhanced accountability for Irish Water, it makes sense for it to be a stand alone,” a spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government said in confirming the news, adding that the establishment of the utility within Ervia “has allowed important semi-state utility experience to be leveraged”.

With the abolition of water charges in the aftermath of the 2016 election, much of the ire surrounding the water utility, first set up with a view to establish the charges and bring the Irish water network up to code in 2013, dissipated to an extent.

The installation of water meters and instigation of the charges had led to nationwide protests in 2015 and 2016, protests that eventually led to the issue of charges becoming politically toxic.

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The move to separate Ervia from the utility “is in the best long term strategic interest of both the public water system and gas networks” the spokesperson said.

Separating the two was not unexpected given plans have been in train for some time for the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) to take on new oversight responsibility for water services.

“In the case of Irish Water, it will allow for enhanced oversight of (the utility), through a role for the C&AG currently under consideration and is consistent with work on developing wording for a potential referendum to ensure that public water services remains in public ownership,” the spokesperson said.

This separation will not happen until 2023, but it is important to signal this future direction now, to allow for the changes in governance and oversight of Irish Water by the government and Oireachtas and the continuing development of our water services.

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