As a City Councillor, 2003-2014, I am acutely aware of the critical importance of water for our city. In Dublin, we use 99% of all available treated water. The need to apply water restrictions in recent years highlights the seriousness of the situation.
However, as leader of the Fianna Fáil group on Dublin City Council 2009-2014, I strongly opposed the establishment of Irish Water because I believed and still believe the strategy was wrong.
As early as 2013 I caused a special meeting of City Council to be convened to try and address my concerns and block the establishment of Irish Water. My many concerns are detailed in the minutes of the meeting.
It was a mistake to prioritise installation of domestic water meters ahead of investment in fixing leaks in the existing infrastructure.
Almost half, 49%, of all available treated water in Ireland is lost through network leakages. 800 million liters of water every day is lost through leakage. Most of these leaks can be detected by district meters. So, to pursue homeowners when the network itself is leaking like a sieve was just wrong.
Most modern international cities have no more than 10-20% excess water capacity available for use. If half the leaks were fixed in the existing water network it would probably yield enough extra water supply to bring us in line with international standards.
A different approach would have avoided the waste of almost €1 billion on domestic meters, consultant’s fees and conservation grants designed to do anything but encourage conservation.
As a result of Fine Gael and Labour’s flawed approach to this issue a significant majority of our population has been alienated from the critically important issue of water supply, security and conservation.
While others high jacked the water issue for political gain Fianna Fáil is the only party that stopped Fine Geal and Labour’s flawed plan and saved homeowners from paying unfair water charges.