Thursday, April 22, 2010

Water charges proposed in Ireland

The Offaly Express (Ireland): The upgrading of water services, announced on Monday by Environment Minister John Gormley, is a long overdue measure to safeguard and maintain a critical natural resource. An existing situation whereby local authorities are losing between 16 and 58 per cent of water treated at great expense, because of leaking pipes, is clearly not sustainable.

The sheer economic waste aside, it is simply wrong in a world where clean water is an ever decreasing commodity, and increasingly subject to the vagaries of climate change and growing populations. Adding urgency to the matter is the prospect of significant daily fines under the EU's Water Framework Directive.

Gormley's three year plan involves a spend of €320 million on the upgrade of pipes. However, the proposals unveiled on Monday are facing the consequences of years of neglect and mismanagement. The problems endemic with efficient water supply were exposed last winter when bad weather pushed the system to its limit. In most cases it was found wanting due to poor and inadequate infrastructure.

As well as the upgrade and repair of the system, domestic water charges are on the way. Every home will be fitted with water meters, though the installation of these 1.1 million meters is not likely to be completed until after June 2012.

…The introduction of charges will alter a situation whereby Ireland remains one of the few developed countries where water is still provided free of charge to households. The flat rate, and unpopular, local authority charge was abolished in 1997….

Birr Castle, County Offaly, Ireland, shot by Tpower, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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