Established in June 2018, the purpose of the Water Advisory Body (WAB) is to advise the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage on measures needed to improve the transparency and accountability of Irish Water. WAB is also required to report on a quarterly basis to an Oireachtas Committee on the performance by Irish Water in the implementation of its Strategic Funding Plan.
The Water Advisory Body has selected eleven performance indicators, each measuring the performance of Irish Water under a different heading. Some of the key findings in the report include:
- Leakage – Irish Water acknowledges that leakage from its “water supply networks is at unacceptable levels and well above international norms”.
- First Fix Scheme – This performance indicator shows a continued and disappointing drop-off in the number of leak repairs completed under the scheme since mid-2016.
- Remedial Action List (Water) – Irish Water has an action plan in place to remediate the drinking water supplies that are currently included on the Remedial Action List.
- Mains replacement rate (for water mains) – Irish Water replaced or rehabilitated 407km of watermains in 2018 and 333km in 2019. This is a substantial increase compared to 2017.
- Compliance with microbiological indicators – Microbiological compliance remains very high.
- Boil Water Notices – The WAB notes with concern the trends for long term boil water notices highlighted by the EPA and will continue to monitor Irish Water’s progress.
- Compliance of Urban Waste Water Treatment – Overall, compliance is very low but there has been an increase in the percentage of urban areas meeting their license standards. Over half of the 75% non-compliance can be attributed to one waste water treatment plant – the plant at Ringsend, Dublin.
The pace at which Irish Water is fixing the legacy of deficiencies in Ireland’s waste water treatment infrastructure is not sufficient. 19 large towns and cities did not meet EU standards set to protect the environment while 33 towns and villages will continue discharging raw sewage after 2021 because they will still not have a waste water treatment plant. These are just two of the findings in the latest quarterly report by the Water Advisory Body (WAB) published today.
Chairperson of The Water Advisory Body, Paul McGowan, noted: “Work around leakage needs to be linked to effective and clear communication around the continuous need for water conservation and this regardless of when the sun shines. The concurrent impact of Covid-19 and the recent drought have given a stark reminder of Ireland’s water capacity challenges.”