NORTH Tipperary County Council has spent E4.5m over the past two years on new water infrastructure aimed at conserving water. The money was allocated to the council under the Water Management Programme 2010-2012, and the council has now moved into the operation stage of its programme.
According to a recent report in the national media, North Tipperary lost 39 per cent of its water in 2010 before it reached the consumer.
A council official told the Tipperary Star this week that that figure was 38 per cent in 2011. The offical said that the figures were daily averages over a full year, and they expected actual water loss this year to be around 35 per cent.
They pointed out that in 2007, before the new infrastructure was put in place, water loss was at 53 per cent.
The official said that until domestic water metering comes in, it would not be possible to have an exact figure on water loss.
“The problem was that the big freezes of 2010 and 2011 took a lot of last year’s funding just to get back to where we were,” they said.
He said that while the E4.5m was now spent, their leak detecting was working “quite well” and they were now able to target areas.
This year, E1.2m will be spent on replacing old pipes in Thurles town centre, and site work on the project has been carried out. A further E2.3m will be spent replacing water mains and it is expected that work will go out to tender later this year.
The official also pointed out that because of a combination of conservation measures, a fall in demand and businesses being more conscious of fixing leaks now that they were being charged, water production had fallen from 27,000 cubic metres in 2006 / 2007 to 19,000 cubic metres.
Meanwhile, Cllr Seamus Morris, in a statement, claimed that the new water charge was “more about raising revenue for our ECB-controlled Government than actually preserving water.
And he claimed “those that are promising a bonanza of jobs are deceiving the public because the jobs are short term jobs installing meters while the local jobs that are due to be transferred from the local authorities will become unsustainable because there is no provision to in the new water authority to fix the badly damaged water network, leading me to believe that this is all about water charges instead of water conservation.”
Cllr Morris pointed out that Deputy Noel Coonan recently welcomed the setting up of Irish Water, saying it will bring jobs, investment and security, while at the same time, Fine Gael’s Cllr Phil Bugler “dared to promise that her constituents in Ballina would have 24-hour water supply”.
“That just about sums up Fine Gael and their promises to the people of North Tipperary in the year 2012 when it comes down to promising people 24-hour water supply while ignoring the fact that the E500m wasted in installing revenue collecting water metres - meaning more money for their elite friends and their own fat pension funds - could be used instead in fixing the crumbling water network first,” he said.
And Cllr Morris accused the Labour Party of “hiding on this one” because it puts them on a direct collision course with Siptu, which represents a majority of the 3,000 local authority water services workers who were told in Deputy Coonan’s press statement that they were being moved over to Irish Water, lock, stock and barrel.
“Mark my words, this Government has every single asset in this proud country up for sale. The shifting of our huge natural water asset to An Bord Gais is all about one thing - privatisation, which will end with those that can’t afford to pay being cut off, much the same as electricity supplies are being cut off to families across the country,” he said.
Cllr Morris promised that Sinn Féin will oppose “privatisation of our water to the end”.