Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

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


I move amendment No. 45:

In page 23, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following subsection:

"(5) For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that the local water supply network (including land, pipes, equipment and rights associated therewith) in such districts of the county of South Dublin as are designated and referred to as extra municipal districts by section 10 of the Dublin Corporation Waterworks Act, 1861, and for which prior to the establishment day the county council had operational responsibility shall on that day vest in and become the responsibility of the South Dublin County Council.".

This amendment relates to that part of the pipe network in south Dublin which is an extra municipal area. The area in question is near Crumlin and while, technically it is the responsibility of Dublin Corporation, in practice Dublin County Council has been the responsible authority for many years. The effect of the amendment is to confirm this long standing position and put beyond doubt that responsibility for the pipe network in that area will rest with the new South Dublin County Council.

I did not get the opportunity to speak on the last amendment. As we are transferring the responsibility for maintenance of branch water pipes to the three new councils, I wish to put on record that there is a major problem at present in relation to the supply of water to the three areas. At present the water supply is cut off at 8 p.m.

That has already been discussed and is not pertinent to this amendment.

I wish to bring it to the attention of the Minister. If there are proposals in relation to that problem in his Department I ask him to look seriously at them. If we set up the three councils we need a proper water supply.

Proposals are being examined on a technical basis at present. The Deputy is aware of the expensive nature of the proposals. Clearly we must refurbish and improve not only the source of supply to the city and county but the existing networks in the city and county which are causing great problems that will require resolution. However, that must be undertaken on a phased basis because of the sheer expense.

For the reasons we discussed earlier we agree that the responsibility for the supply of water should be transferred to the respective authorities. However, in transferring the responsibility for that supply, account must be taken of what is being transferred. Dublin Corporation had responsibility for the maintenance of this network and, at the risk of again provoking Deputy Broughan, I must say that Dublin Corporation's performance in the maintenance of those pipes was very poor.

Some of the pipes are well over 100 years old and the Department of the Environment does not give the capital moneys to restore them.

They are in a disgraceful condition. The corporation's spending in this area, in what was known as the extra municipal area, was very low. I do not know how it compared with its spending in other areas of responsibility. The authorities taking on this responsibility will also be taking on a major financial headache. I hope this has already been drawn to the Minister's attention but I wish to give a couple of examples. There will be a cost in relation the purchase of water which, for example, is estimated at approximately £1.25 million in respect of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council. There will also be the minimal spending — approximately £250,000 — of Dublin Corporation in the maintenance of the scheme. There will be a huge financial problem in funding this and some account will have to be taken of that when we come to totting up the financial end of this marriage and reorganisation, because the transfer of responsibility for the water supply does not come without corresponding financial consequences.

What are the Minister's proposals in relation to funding this? Will there be a financial transfer from Dublin Corporation for it or does he propose to fund it himself?

I agree that the refurbishment of the pipe network of the city and county is one of the major structural funding tasks facing the nation. Proper funding must be provided, but in the last 120 to 140 years one of the great achievements of our city and county has been the fact that we have had such a brilliant water supply system. It is a role I perform in Dublin Corporation as chairperson of the general purposes committee. There is a statute in this city, chairman, I believe at College Green, of which you are probably aware, of my predecessor who began, I believe, the first major water supply from the river Vartry into the——

Where will they put the Deputy up?

Somewhere more prominent, I hope.

The basement of Dangan reformatory is full of such busts.


Deputy Broughan, without interruption.

The whole northside is suffering at present and the Minister is probably aware of the fact that there is a rumour — perhaps it is malign — that Dublin County Council, in its Leixlip pumping works, is switching off pumps to save vital energy costs before the changeover to make some necessary savings. As a result, across my Dáil constituency, for example, which is supplied by Dublin County Council, with most of the northside, constituents cannot have a shower. This is a long standing problem in Raheny.

The Dubs tend to get the bad end of the stick in relation to funding. Under the current National Development Plan we are getting 83 per cent——

Deputy Broughan, that is a long way from the amendment.

We need funding——


I did not realise we were responsible for the hygiene habits of the members of the Deputy's constituency, but it is true that the pressure on the pipes generally in the area in question is bad. The sad fact is that a major capital investment will be required and I do not know where this money is supposed to come from. It certainly cannot be afforded by the new county councils which are commencing under a heavy burden of debt. The cost to the county councils would be enormous.

Amendment agreed to.
Question: "That section 34, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put and agreed to.