Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (360)

Tom Fleming


360. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will request Irish Water to make funding available as a matter of urgency to address the mid-Kerry water supply crisis (details supplied); if he will direct Irish Water to defer the introduction of water meters and water charges to all households in mid-Kerry until such time as these ongoing problems are addressed and the entire pipe network is replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15054/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have no responsibility for, or role in relation to, the management, operation or maintenance of water services infrastructure. From 1 January 2014 Irish Water has responsibility for the delivery of these services and for the delivery of water services capital infrastructure. It is currently preparing a Capital Investment Plan for 2014 – 2016. The further progression of all water services capital projects is now a matter for Irish Water.

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers of Irish Water. This is similar to the CER's statutory role in respect of the gas and electricity sectors.

The CER will be responsible for approving the water charges plans prepared by Irish Water, and for approving codes of practice to be prepared by Irish Water. The codes of practice will cover matters such as the standard of performance, by Irish Water, of its functions and billing by Irish Water of persons in respect of water services provided; the provision of information by Irish Water to its customers; and the making of complaints by its customers. In discharging its functions, the CER may consult with Irish Water, the public, or any other person it considers appropriate. The Commission has already undertaken public consultations on the development of the economic regulatory framework for water services and will be undertaking further consultations during 2014.

My Department asked Irish Water to put in place specific arrangements to address the queries which public representatives may have in relation to matters pertaining to the operation of water services under the new utility. I understand that Irish Water has made contact with Oireachtas members to outline the arrangements for addressing such queries in a timely manner.