The locations of eight Irish Water’s regional offices were announced on Wednesday with Castlebar selected as the regional office for the Connacht/Ulster region; giving a much needed boost to the creation of jobs in the county town.
The Government announced in 2012 its intention to create a publicly owned national water utility in order to manage and improve the delivery of water and wastewater services in Ireland. This new utility, Irish Water, will replace the current system in which public water and wastewater services are delivered by city and county councils, facilitating increased investment into the system and resulting in better quality and more secure water services for water users.
The Irish Water regional offices are being established to support the provision of water and wastewater services, with regional work associated with operations, asset management, and certain capital projects being sited in these offices.
Between 18 and 32 employees will be based in each of these offices drawn from the local authorities, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government Bord Gáis, and open recruitment. A variety of roles will be available including operation and maintenance, capital planning, and health and safety. Further information on these roles will be available in due course on Irish Water’s website www.water.ie, which is to be launched today (Friday ).
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has welcomed the announcement that one offices is to be located in Castlebar: “This particular office will, together with others in Cavan and Donegal, help to increase the efficiency of the provision of water services right across the Connacht/Ulster region.“This is about creating a world-class water system for Ireland and Castlebar is now set to be positioned at the heart of that.”
The other regional offices will be in Dublin city, Mullingar, Cavan town, Donegal town, Kilkenny city, Limerick city, and Mallow. Irish Water headquarters will be in Dublin and a services function in Cork.
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan has commented that these regional offices “will help to increase efficiencies and create greater economies of scale in the provision of water services, while ensuring that Irish Water working with local authorities remains close to its customers.”
Minister Hogan said: “Our goal is to create a world class water and wastewater system for citizens, that protects public health and the environment. A secure supply of quality water will also support job creation and encourage foreign direct investment from water-intensive industries. Ireland can become a prime location for such industries as other countries struggle to ensure water supply meets demand.”
The Minister noted that agreement had been reached with the Troika to defer the date for the commencement of domestic charges to Quarter 4 2014, with first bills issuing in January 2015. Minister Hogan added: “My intention is that as part of a range of conservation measures to be put in place, that where leakage is found through the water meter installation programme on the customer side, a ‘first fix free’ or equivalent support scheme would be provided. I will announce final details on this shortly.”
The Minister concluded: “We intend that households will be provided with a free allowance and that there will be specific supports for those with medical conditions that necessitate a high level of water use and those with affordability issues. No decision has yet been taken to the proposed approach to the free allowance or to these supports. Affordability issues will be addressed, in consultation with the Regulator, Irish Water and other stakeholders. The agreed approach to affordability issues will then be reflected in the charging structure established by the Regulator, which will be the subject of public consultation early next year.”