Irish Water proposes to invest €1.77bn to improve water services

Irish Water has published its Proposed Capital Investment Plan for 2014 to 2016. The company says that investment has been prioritised where it can deliver “the most urgently needed improvements in drinking water quality, leakage, water availability, wastewater compliance, efficiencies and customer service”.

It is proposed to deliver/progress over 380 projects under the Plan, which has been submitted to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) for consideration.

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Irish Water estimates that €1.77 billion will be required to deliver on the objectives of the 2014-2016 Capital Investment Plan (CIP). The current indicative funding available to Irish Water is €1.2 billion, which includes the additional €200 million announced by the Government last week. This brings funding up from current levels of €310 million in 2014 to €410 million in 2015 and 2016.

The Plan involves a rolling programme so should there be a funding shortfall, it can roll over into 2017. However, Irish Water says that “every effort will be made to reduce the gap by avoiding or reducing cost through our asset management approach and by seeking to raise additional funding”.

“Our approach to capital investment will ensure that we deliver improvements where they are needed most,” said a spokesperson for Irish Water. “The Plan sets out the programme of water and waste water projects that we believe are urgently required to improve the service to our customers. A number of the projects in the Capital Investment Plan have already commenced.

“However Irish Water is introducing a new approach involving comprehensive asset management. We will look at every opportunity to extend the life of an asset where we can improve performance and at the same time reduce the level of major capital investment – thereby providing better value for the customer and ensuring we can deliver more with limited resources.”

The Plan includes an indicative schedule of projects which are at various stages of planning and development. They will be advanced subject to full planning and environmental assessment of Irish Water’s plans and strategies and of the individual projects, having regard to all regulatory requirements with specific legal obligations including public consultations under Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) directives and regulations.

According to the new Plan, some of Irish Water’s priorities include:

1.       Eliminating ‘boil water’ notices in Roscommon:

Irish Water says it aims to prioritise drinking water quality and aims to lift the majority of all long-term ‘boil water’ notices in Roscommon in early 2015.

 2.       Provision of more water and reducing disruption to supply in the Dublin area

By investing in the completion of the work to existing treatment plants at Ballymore Eustace and Leixlip, an extra 60 million litres of water a day will be supplied to Dublin – the equivalent of a new treatment plant.  Irish Water will also increase the interconnectivity between Ballymore Eustace and Leixlip, thereby aiming to minimise future water disruptions to the Greater Dublin Area by allowing homes and businesses access to more than one source of water.

3.       Improving water quality

A number of schemes which have inadequate water treatment systems are being delivered or progressed in order to ensure they meet water quality standards e.g. Letterkenny in Donegal, Kerry Central and Burncourt/Fethard in Tipperary.

4.       Investing for economic development

Additional water supplies will facilitate industrial, commercial and housing developments – developments which may have been delayed in recent times due to restricted water and wastewater services infrastructure.  For example – the investment proposed by Irish Water to supply water and wastewater infrastructure for the Docklands Strategic Development Zone in Dublin will be critical to facilitate the creation of 30,000 jobs in this area.

5.       Tackling leaks

Irish Water is proposing to spend €150 million to accelerate leakage reduction and is moving to a much more proactive approach on leakage, with the long-term objective of reducing public and customer side leakage nationally by 50%.

Some €51 million will be available as a result of the Government announcement last week to assist home owners to fix leaks which may occur on their own property.  This is estimated to yield a saving of 40 million litres of water every day.

6.       Improvement in wastewater treatment

Irish Water says it will significantly improve wastewater compliance for an estimated 400,000 population equivalent (as identified by the EPA in its ‘Focus on Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2010’ as having inadequate or no waste water treatment).

Irish Water is also progressing the upgrade of the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant as a priority.  This will provide additional wastewater treatment capacity to enable on-going development and employment creation in the Dublin Region.  It will support the on-going investment in water quality improvement in the Lower Liffey Estuary and Dublin Bay.  An alternative project strategy developed by Irish Water in conjunction with Dublin City Council is expected to result in capital cost savings in the order of €170 million.

7.       Better control and monitoring

Irish Water says it will focus on reducing the running costs of providing water services.  The company will invest in a modern telemetry system to ensure that adequate control, monitoring and alarm systems are in place to allow for early detection of any issues and to target where key investment is needed.  By the end of 2016, Irish Water says it will have the core systems in place to monitor water and wastewater systems serving approximately 80% of the population.

8.       Improve existing plants

Irish Water will invest over €100 million in much-needed targeted upgrades to plants around the country to improve performance, environmental compliance, health & safety and energy efficiency.

For further information, or for a copy of the full Proposed Capital Investment Plan 2014-2016 and the supplementary Appendix 1 to the CIP, email