Legislation was enacted in December 2013 (The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013) which established Irish Water as the national water services authority from 1 January 2014. The Act provides for the transfer of water services functions from the 34 local authorities to Irish Water. Section 14 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that the Minister may, from time to time, designate the transfer of rights and liabilities from a water services authority to Irish Water. This would include contracts entered into by local authorities for the provision of water services. An Order providing for the transfer of 642 Design-Build-Operate (DBO) and capital project contracts to Irish Water was signed by me on 20 February 2014. It was only possible to proceed with the transfer of contracts when the appropriate legislation was enacted.
Steering Group meetings between my Department and each local authority were held on a quarterly basis during the lifetime of the Water Services Investment Programme. Over the past two years, since the announcement of the transfer of water services to Irish Water, local authorities were advised that the Department would cease to have responsibility for the delivery of water services from 1 January 2014; this responsibility would then transfer to Irish Water.
Correspondence to this effect issued from Irish Water to the local authorities in December 2013 outlining the capital delivery process which would be applied by Irish Water when it took water services in hand. Local authorities were not informed that contracts regarding the delivery of water services infrastructure not signed before 31 December 2013 could not proceed, rather that such projects would be reviewed by Irish Water in line with its strategic objectives.
Irish Water is currently preparing a Capital Investment Plan for 2014 – 2016 that will provide for the transition of projects included in the 2010 – 2013 Water Services Investment Programme. The further progression of all water services capital projects is a matter for Irish Water. This includes confirmation that funding will be available to progress schemes.