Skip to main content
Normal View

Select Committee on Finance and General Affairs debate -
Wednesday, 1 Dec 1993


I move amendment No. 44:

In page 22, subsection (1), line 14, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".

After all our discussion, this is a relatively simple amendment. There is some concern on the part of councillors in relation to the whole area of water, pipe maintenance and so on. The objective is to put an onus on the authority to do the things stated in that section.

There are many problems with such an inflexible provision. It hardly makes sense to legally require, as the amendment would, a local authority to provide pipes, perhaps in circumstances where there was a lack of spare capacity to install the mains or, in an extreme case, when the branch pipe is damaged either deliberately or by sheer negligence. It is totally inflexible provision. I would have difficulty with it and the policies of the Progressive Democrats in relation to these matters would not be compatible with it.

I wish to clarify a matter in relation to water pipes. There is a problem at present in that outside the borough area the householder has responsibility for maintenance of the water pipe as far as the middle of the road. That has created many crazy situations where somebody having seen a leak on the road, reports it to the county council and Members know what happens after that. Does section 33 mean that the householder's responsibility will only be inside the boundary of their property?

That is exactly what it means except in circumstances where a deliberate action on the part of the resident caused the problem outside. It gives the local authority flexibility to deal with such — albeit infrequent — situations.

How would such a circumstance arise? What exactly does the Minister have in mind? Is he referring to a malicious action on the part of the householder?

We are using the same powers that operate in the county and throughout the country. There has never been any difficulty with this and it meets the situation outlined by Deputy Gilmore. It does not take power from the council in exceptional circumstances to impose an obligation on somebody to pay where there was a deliberate action on their part to damage the pipes.

Unless the householder engages in malicious activity there is no question of householders being held responsible or being charged for the repair of water pipes outside their garden wall?

Yes. I was amazed when I first learned of the current position and I was at pains to ensure that this Bill ended that ridiculous situation.

Thank you, Minister. We have been suffering patiently for a long time in County Dublin.

I am glad that I have come from Tipperary to resolve some problems in the city.

Does the existing provision in the ex-borough areas in relation to the water Act apply anywhere else in Ireland at present?

I have never heard of it. I am told that the law in Cork is similar but it has never been operated in that way by the local authority.

This provision in the Bill has been welcomed because a serious anomaly existed. Perhaps the Minister believes I was out of order in trying to strengthen it. However, the principle was important.

We have never had a difficulty anywhere.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 33 agreed to.