Tuesday, 3 July 2018
We do not need a rainy day fund. We need a sunny day fund because the current heatwave and the warnings from Irish Water about water shortages have yet again exposed the completely decrepit state of Ireland's water infrastructure and the disastrous consequences of decades of underinvestment by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil-led Governments. In particular, the current crisis has been exacerbated by the decisions from 2010 onwards, first by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party and subsequently continued by Fine Gael and the Labour Party, to cut the capital investment programme for fixing the water infrastructure by €50 million per year. We have now reached the point that 49% of water is lost through leaks from the mains infrastructure, rather than household wastage. It is particularly infuriating that spokespersons for the parties that imposed the cuts and austerity on the water investment programme have the cheek to blame householders for the problem when they know that the expert commission the Government set up to look into water usage in this country concluded categorically that there was no evidence of excessive household wastage and that household usage in Ireland is lower than that of Great Britain, which has water charges. I repeat that usage here is lower than in Britain. That is what the Government's expert commission concluded. We use 110 litres per day per house while in Great Britain, which has water charges, average household usage is 140 litres per day. Why do Government spokespersons and representatives of parties that slashed the investment programme for water infrastructure persist in blaming householders? The reality is that householders are reaping the bitter fruits of the Government's decision to cut investment in fixing our decrepit and broken water infrastructure. The evidence is still there. There has been a leak on Kildare Street for two weeks. The Tánaiste should go outside and take a look at it. On Friday, I managed to have a case featured on national radio involving one street in Dún Laoghaire where residents reported water leakage and water shortages in January. Irish Water did not arrive to look at the problem until June and has said it cannot fix it until August.
That is the consequence - leakage of 700 million litres a day, which is wasted because the Government has failed to invest in fixing our broken water infrastructure. Why does the Tánaiste not just admit it?