Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (1398)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

1398. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to improve the quality of customer service to customers of Irish Water; his views on the present quality of customer service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13304/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Government's vision for water services is that they are delivered and developed in line with the needs and expectations of citizens and users; in compliance with legal obligations; in a fair and cost effective manner and in keeping with the principles of social, economic and environmental sustainability. The Water Services Policy Statement 2018-2025 sets out the range of policy objectives across the key thematic areas of quality, conservation and future proofing to be pursued by Irish Water and others between now and 2025 in order to achieve this vision. The Policy Statement can be accessed on my Department's website at the following link: -

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/water_services_policy_statement_2018-2025.pdf.

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. 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 Regulation of Utilities (CRU) which is specifically tasked under the legislation with protecting the interests of customers.

An important aspect of the CRU’s work is ensuring that Irish Water’s revenue is spent appropriately to improve services for customers. To facilitate this, in November 2016 the CRU outlined a framework of 19 key performance metrics against which it would monitor Irish Water’s performance and progress over time. The metrics cover customer service, environmental performance, quality of service for water supply, security of water supply and sewerage service. Monitoring Irish Water’s performance relative to these metrics will facilitate an evaluation by the CRU of the utility’s performance. It also ensures that transparent data becomes available to customers through the publication of performance data.

The most recent Irish Water Performance Assessment Report published by the CRU in February 2018 is available at the following weblink - www.cru.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CRU18034-Irish-Water-Performance-Assessment-Report-No.-2-February-2018.pdf .

I understand that the CRU plans to publish a further Performance Assessment Report later this year.

The Water Services Act 2017 has strengthened the arrangement in place for stakeholder engagement, accountability and transparency in relation to the provision of water services. The Water Advisory Body has been placed on a statutory footing and empowered to advise the Minister on the measures needed to improve the transparency and accountability of Irish Water for the purpose of increasing the confidence of members of the public in Irish Water and to report to an Oireachtas Committee on a quarterly basis on the performance of Irish Water in the implementation of its business plan. The Act also established An Forám Uisce to provide a platform for public engagement on all matters relating to water as an environmental, social and economic resource.

Based on the above, I am confident that appropriate arrangements are in place for the delivery of water services and the development of the Water Sector in line with the needs and expectations of customers and users.

It may also be helpful to note that Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email at oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.