The water sector reform implementation strategy, which is published on my Department’s website, is focused on ensuring that appropriate policy and legal frameworks are put in place for Irish Water and the water sector. A key objective is to rationalise the cost of the current service delivery and ensure more efficient operation of water services by moving from 34 water services authorities to a single body. Following enactment of comprehensive legislation later this year, Irish Water will, therefore, become the water services authority from 1 January 2014.
The Government has decided to assign responsibility for the economic regulation of the water sector, including the setting of charges, to the Commission for Energy Regulation. It will be a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation in due course to satisfy itself on the appropriateness of costs incurred in the operation of Irish Water as part of the process of setting the tariffs for both the domestic and the non-domestic sector in the future. It is envisaged that the commission will engage in public consultation as part of this process. A key role for the regulator will be to protect the interests of all customers and to drive efficiencies in the water services sector.