Friday 19 April 2019

Government to establish commission on Irish Water

The Government has sought nominees to form an Expert Commission to make recommendations on the long-term funding model for delivering water services
The Government has sought nominees to form an Expert Commission to make recommendations on the long-term funding model for delivering water services

Paul Melia and Caroline Crawford

The Government has sought nominees to form an Expert Commission to make recommendations on the long-term funding model for delivering water services.

A key part of the Programme for Government, the Commission is expected to complete its work five months after being established, and its report will be considered by a special Oireachtas committee before a Dáil vote.

Both national and international experts are required, and parties have been invited to make nominations. The commission will require "professional expertise" in funding and financing of large -scale infrastructure investment and maintenance programmes, economic regulation, water resources management and environmental law.

Infrastructure

Nominations should be submitted by this Friday. Among the issues to be addressed are funding the network over the longer-term, proposals on how Irish Water will be able to borrow to invest in infrastructure and how conservation can be encouraged.

The Cabinet yesterday approved legislation to suspend water charges for nine months, taking effect from July 1, in line with the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil minority government deal.

Meanwhile, the Chair of the Public Water Forum has said the Government "failed drastically" in putting across a proper debate on Irish Water.

Dr Tom Collins said policymakers and Irish Water failed in their message and the entire discussion had been poorly handled.

Speaking to the Irish Independent Dr Collins said the public would have been more open to the discussion around Irish Water had it focused on resource conservation.

"We have failed, I think policymakers have failed drastically to present to the public the issue of water in a wider debate than merely water charges , the issue has to be seen in a much wider way," he said.

He said he believed the country needs a national authority around water but stressed if that was to involve a cost it must be affordable, saying citizens had a right to the supply "regardless of their capacity to pay for it".

Irish Independent

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