Thursday 5 December 2019

Irish Water set up too quickly, warns county manager

Environment Minister Phil Hogan introduced water charges
Environment Minister Phil Hogan introduced water charges
Tom Curran
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A COUNTY manager who chaired a committee in the setting up of Irish Water has said the company was set up too quickly and warned mistakes will be made.

However, it was Tom Curran's comments on flushing toilets that got the most reaction from radio listeners.

Mr Curran, who is due to retire from Kerry County Council in three weeks, said the timescale given by the troika to set up Irish Water was "crazy".

"If you look at the whole Irish Water set-up, that's been done in Northern Ireland, the UK, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Australia, but they took 10 years plus. We're asked to do it in 18 months in Ireland, crazy time scales," Mr Curran said. "They gave us deadlines to do it but I think mistakes will be made."

Irish Water will pay local authorities to maintain the network after water charges start in October. Mr Curran said he pleaded to have a stipulation added to the legislation that would ring-fence funding to pay for the upgrade of the pipe network and water treatment plants in individual counties but this never happened.

He told Jerry O'Sullivan on Radio Kerry's 'Kerry Today' programme that replacing the pipe network would cost multiples of millions, and that it was a huge challenge – but county councils would have to make their own case to Irish Water.

"I was trying to get this written into the legislation and all I was getting was Irish Water will have 'regard for local plans' and that's not worth the paper it's written on," he said.

In the same interview, Mr Curran said a toilet did not need to be flushed after every use and people could put a brick in their cistern to save water.

"You're flushing 10 gallons of water down the toilet for what, maybe half a pint of urine going in, and it just makes no sense at all," he said.

"If people want to flush the toilet and are willing to pay for it, that's fine. The point I'm making is you can save money by being more efficient in the way you do your business."

But one listener said they were "horrified" by Mr Curran's suggestion.

Irish Independent

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