The Policy Paper sets out the Government’s views and expectations on the next steps in the transformation of the water sector that will lead to the retention of Irish Water as a national, publicly-owned, regulated, water services utility. Specifically, the Government’s expectations are that:
- Irish Water will separate from the Ervia Group during 2023.
- Irish Water will integrate the day to day operation and delivery of water services into its own organisational structure, in place of the current Service Level Agreements, on a phased basis.
- In preparation for such integration of services under Irish Water, the engagement process taking place under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to identify a stable operational framework for the future delivery of water services should be concluded by July 2021.
- The framework for the future delivery of water services will enable progress on the ongoing water sector transformation programme by:
– Providing Irish Water with the necessary control of water services operations, and full accountability for same; the capacity to manage risk; and the capacity to communicate and negotiate with all water services workers on the change agenda;
– Addressing the concerns of workers in relation to the future deployment of current local authority water services staff through collective agreement with the workers; and
– Ensuring that Irish Water is not left without an appropriately skilled workforce to carry out its statutory functions.
- Irish Water, working with local authorities and current water services workers, will implement a phased plan for the integration of water services into its organisational structure, with implementation to be concluded in 2022.
- Environmental regulation will continue to be performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and economic regulation by the CRU.
- Water services provision will continue to be faithful to, and consistent with, the requirements set out in the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), and otherwise comply with EU law in all respects.
An Fóram Uisce welcomes this progress in the development of Irish Water as a maturing utility and their capacity to deliver on the objectives of the WFD.