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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett] That is the consequence - leakage of 700 million litres a day, which is wasted because the Government has failed to invest in fixing our broken water infrastructure. Why does the Tánaiste not just admit it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Sometimes it is hard to know where to start with the Deputy on this issue.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Try disputing the facts then.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Thank God we now have a single water entity that is trying to manage the challenges we face nationally.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is doing a really good job.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is actually doing a reasonably good job.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock It is needed in Ballyhooley.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The reason we have so many leaks in our pipes is because we had more than 30 different entities managing water infrastructure in the past, many of which were under-resourced in terms of what they needed to do. What we now have is a single entity that is planning for future national water usage needs. It is managing a difficult weather situation right now and will continue to do so over the summer months. It has, for the first time, a coherent plan to reduce leakage significantly from 45% leaks to 38% leaks by 2021. It has a capital investment programme which is secure, thanks to the political agreement in this House. Therefore, for the first time, we have a proper, coherent, organised and funded plan to fix Ireland's water infrastructure once and for all. We have a plan to deal with shortages in Dublin, which would not have been solved by the local authorities in Dublin on their own because this is going to require a national approach to bring water from the Shannon to the eastern parts of the country and to Dublin in particular, as well as to many counties surrounding Dublin.

The approach for which the Deputy would advocate is to localise everything in terms of decision making, planning, expenditure and so on and we know the results of that policy, namely, leaks all over the country and the inability for co-ordination between counties and nationally.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry It is under-investment.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I would like to thank Irish Water for the work it is doing in very difficult circumstances, the partnerships it is developing with organisations such as the IFA and other organisations and the partnerships it has with local authorities. This allows it to concentrate on the areas that are feeling the most water stress and shortage right now in order to ensure the resources, experience and skill sets in Irish Water, which come from economies of scale, can give the response that is necessary as quickly as possible.

Second, nobody is blaming householders. What we in government are doing is asking the country to respond in the way it did during other extreme weather circumstances earlier in the year, when communities came together and supported one another. They should be doing that now as well to ensure that neighbours take other neighbours into account in how they use water over the coming weeks, given the lack of rainfall and the obvious shortages that will come from that. That appeal from Government is something I hope communities, individual householders and businesses will heed.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Every day households in this country use 300 million l of water. Does the Tánaiste know how much leaks out of the system every day? It is 700 million l of water.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Does the Deputy know how much has been saved in the last year? He should quote the whole truth.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I have to hand the Irish Water business plan. This is the plan of the Tánaiste's crowd and what it shows is a drop in investment from 2010 onwards, first instigated by Fianna Fáil and the Greens, then by Fine Gael and Labour.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Has the Deputy heard of the economic crash?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Irish Water business plan refers on several occasions to the decades of under-investment. That was done by Fine Gael-led and Fianna Fáil-led Governments. Have things improved slightly since the Government abandoned the wild goose chase of water charges? Yes, because €250 million a year that was being put into water meters that do not fix leaks has now been redirected to upping the investment programme on water infrastructure, although it is still way short.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The time is up.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Irish Water testified in this House in April that it needs €18 billion of investment to fix our water infrastructure.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The time is up.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Tánaiste said the leakage will be down to 38% by 2020. That is pathetic.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy must conclude.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett That does not deal with the problem. We need to significantly increase investment in water infrastructure, which the Government has failed to do.


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