The establishment and future governance of Uisce Éireann will be discussed by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht at its meeting today, Tuesday 6th November, 2012. John Mullins, Chief Executive, Bord Gáis Éireann, will brief the Committee on the status of the new Irish water utility Uisce Éireann. Bord Gáis has been given the role in establishing and running the new State company.
Cathaoirleach of the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Michael McCarthy, TD says: “As a Committee we are aware that there are challenges in terms of planning for water supply, providing adequate infrastructure and meeting the costs of delivering and maintaining a water system. Our recent report on water provision aims to address these challenges and we are looking forward to meeting with Mr Mullins to consider our observations and recommendations on the issue of the supply, storage, provision, disposal and cost of water.”
The meeting will also be a chance for members of the Committee to get an update on progress on the establishment of the new utility and on the timeframe for a fully functional water company to be up and running. It is an opportunity to get the latest information on developments in relation to recruiting senior management and staff and the rolling out of water metres and setting up an IT infrastructure to manage a nationwide billing system.
“We will be particularly interested in teasing out the issue of metering, in particular the type of metering and where the metres will actually be located,” Michael McCarthy adds. “The governance of Uisce Éireann is also of particular interest.”
In its report, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht recommended that the new Irish Water utility must be open and transparent to consumers, be covered by Freedom of Information legislation and be required to appear and report to the relevant Oireachtas Committee. The current Commission for Energy Regulation should be strengthened to take on the regulation of the new Irish water utility.
The Committee also recommended that there should be a strong customer voice, whereby the new Irish water utility and its regulators will be obliged to consult, co-operate with and take account of the views of a statutory consumer-focused body, on water issues and that the composition of its Board should make provision for a strong consumer representation.