Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Nicky McFadden (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
Question 434: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there will be any level of engagement and consultation between county councils and Irish Water once control of water investment and maintenance programmes is transferred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9147/12]
Fergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
Irish Water will have to build on the strengths of the existing system including an experienced and committed workforce. Consequently Irish Water, although a national company, will have a regional and local focus and a phased transition is proposed to ensure continuity of service and the building of a fit for purpose organisation within a reasonable timescale.
The initial transition strategy envisages a staged approach involving:
· Appointment of an interim board and Project Management Office in 2012 pending the establishment of Irish Water under its own statute by mid 2013;
· Irish Water would acquire statutory responsibility for water services in mid 2013, with ownership of assets transferring from local authorities from that date;
· Local authorities would be agents of Irish Water for a period with Irish Water taking over their operations on a phased basis from January 2015;
· The full transfer of operations would be completed by end 2017.
The next stage of the consultancy work involves the development of an implementation plan which will address transformation planning in more detail. This transformation planning for the establishment of Irish Water will consider the interaction of the proposed utility with local authorities, both during the transition phase when they are agents of Irish Water, and in the longer term in relation to the roles retained by local authorities.
While Irish Water will be responsible for the strategic planning of water services, in developing these plans, it will have to take account of the policy framework set by my Department, local development plans and regional planning guidelines.
The Department will be examining these issues in developing the implementation plan and the legislation, and is consulting with the elected members associations and the CCMA as part of this process.