This week’s announcement of investment of€1.7billion over three years amounts to just under €600 million a year – the same amount that is currently being spent on maintaining water network. It’s also €500 million a year less than the Government’s own report recommends is invested in water services.
This is nothing more than a PR stunt ahead of next week’s elections. It represents absolutely no new spending on our water services. Irish Water made the announcement amid great fanfare, but the government spin here is trying to hide the fact that it does not amount to one single cent of new investment. It’s exactly what was being spent on the water network anyway, before this Government came into office and before Irish Water was established. The only change is that the say on water services has been taken from the public and given to a new super quango.
The Environment Minister Phil Hogan must be taken to task for this blatant dishonesty. We have serious deficiencies in our water network in Kildare, with far too much water being lost through leaks and outdated infrastructure. We also have areas in the south of the county which are working on supplies of extremely hard water. This means people are going through the expense of replacing washing machines and kettles far more often than is the case in other counties.
What we are now learning is that despite Kildare families facing water bills of over €500 a year from next year, ‘investment’ in the water network will be the exact same as current levels.
All the way along, Minister Hogan has attempted to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes about what’s being spent on setting up his new super quango and where that money is going. He’s attempted to play down the true cost of water charges and has been completely dishonest about what households will get in return. This announcement is just more evidence of this dishonesty.
Kildare households cannot be expected to pay hundreds of euro a year for their water without seeing any improvement whatsoever in the service they receive. The very first task of Irish Water was supposed to be carrying out a full audit of the water network and identifying problems that need investment. Two years later that still hasn’t happened, so Minister Hogan’s answer is to pretend that extra money is being invested in the network just so his party can salvage some votes in next week’s elections. It’s a deeply dishonest and cynical move and further evidence of the Government neglecting the best interests of households in this process.