Ervia is silent on cost of US trip to collect water gong

Paul Ahern Irish Water award

Cormac McQuinn

ERVIA, the company that oversees Irish Water, could not say this morning how much it spent sending a representative to accept an award in the US on behalf of the under-fire utility.

Paul Ahern, an Ervia official who works on the Irish Water programme, travelled to San Diego, California, to collect the award from Esri, a US firm that provides geographic information system (GIS) software.

It was presented by Esri president Jack Dangermond, who called Mr Ahern a "hero" for his work in implementing a GIS in the space of a year as Irish Water was being established.


"I cannot provide specific costs in relation to this trip but can confirm they were approved by Ervia," a spokeswoman said this morning.

She emphasised the importance of the creation of the GIS for the overall Irish Water project. Irish Water used the ArcGIS Platform Solution provided by Esri.

Mr Ahern attended the Esri User Conference earlier this week, and was called up on stage by Mr Dangermond to accept the accolade, an Enterprise GIS award.

"Paul is a person who in one year implemented a complete GIS for their entire organisation for the entire country starting from scratch," Mr Dangermond said. "I mean, this guy is a hero by any measure."

Mr Ahern said he was delighted to accept the award "on behalf of everyone involved in setting up Irish Water".

"When we were asked by the Government to establish Irish Water we faced three challenges," he said.

"We had very little time, we had no data and we had very high customer expectations. So working with Esri Ireland and Esri Water teams we overcame those challenges and we deployed the ArcGIS water Platform across the organisation in just 12 months."

An Ervia spokeswoman defended Mr Ahern's trip to the States to accept the award.

"This award was received for a significant project. It created for the very fist time a national geodatabase that could be used across all departments in Irish Water," she said.

The spokeswoman added that the geodatatbase gives the utility a "much greater capability" in managing assets, workflows, capital investments and strategic planning.

It also helps it to "deal with historic problems and improved customer services to almost two million Irish Water customers".