Paul Melia: Funding is the big issue now
Published 21/04/2016 | 02:30
There's nothing new in the Remedial Action List published today, beyond an update on just how much in need of investment our water network is. While it makes for grim reading, it's important to note that these supplies are not providing unsafe water.
What the watchdog is saying, is that they are at risk of being unable to produce clean and safe water unless major investment is made.
On this front, Irish Water is moving in the right direction. It promises to invest €2bn up to 2021, and says that all supplies will be upgraded. That assumes, of course, that the utility is still in existence, and that the necessary funding is there.
Since it came into being in January 2014, Irish Water has upgraded 57 plants. But as its knowledge of the network has deepened, another 36 have been added to its list.
It proposes low-cost solutions where possible - installing additional equipment to prevent unsafe water being produced, and only building new plants where necessary. It also proposes abandoning plants and supplies entirely, something which the EPA has called for since 2008.
The fact that the EPA is prosecuting the utility for not complying with legally binding directions shows that it too is serious about making progress.
It has been criticised for not prosecuting in the past.
But what was the point? The dogs in the street knew there was no money for new plants, so imposing a fine would only add to local authority financial woes.
But fixing the network is a long-term project, and more problems will inevitably emerge.