Written answers

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Water Services

Photo of Chris AndrewsChris Andrews (Dublin Bay South, Sinn Fein)
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81. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the person or body that is ultimately responsible for the operational performance of Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13281/22]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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Since 1 January 2014 Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of the planning, delivery and operation of water and wastewater services at national, regional and local levels. The Board of Ervia is charged with ensuring that Irish Water operates in accordance with its statutory functions and the Code of Governance for State Bodies. However, Irish Water is subject to range of external oversight mechanisms.

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) which has statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers.

A key aspect of the CRU’s regulatory role is to ensure that Irish Water’s revenue is spent appropriately to improve services for customers. To facilitate this, the CRU has put a Performance Assessment Framework in place against which it monitors Irish Water’s performance and progress over time. This Framework currently includes 28 metrics covering customer service, security of supply, quality of supply, sewer incidents, environmental performance, and energy and emissions. This arrangement is in place to ensure that Irish Water performs to a high standard, keeps the public and other key stakeholders informed of its performance, and supports the CRU in making evidence-based decisions in the interests of customers.

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulating Irish Water’s compliance with environmental regulation. The EPA reports regularly on Irish Water's performance in this regard and can and does take enforcement action, including through the Courts, where it identifies failures.

The Water Services Act 2017 strengthened stakeholder engagement in oversight of the water sector through the establishment of the Water Advisory Body, which reports to the Oireachtas on the Irish Water's performance in the implementation of its business plan. The Water Advisory Body issues quarterly reports to the Oireachtas on Irish Water performance. In addition, the 2017 Act provided for the establishment of An Fóram Uisce, which provides an important platform for public engagement on all matters relating to water resource management, including in relation to the functions performed by Irish Water.

Finally, as Minister, I and my Department have a role in the overall governance of Irish Water, including financial governance. This is discharged through a number of structural arrangements such as the Shareholders’ Expectation Letter, monthly management to management meetings, and a range of other formal and informal meetings in relation to financial governance, delivery of programmes, etc. I also have responsibility for setting national policy in relation to water matters including the functions of Irish Water. In addition, NewERA, in its role as financial and commercial advisor to Government Ministers and Departments, provides advice to my Department in relation to financial expenditure, capital consents for major projects, board appointments, and related matters.


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