Tuesday 25 October 2016

Irish Water made loss of €138m last year

John Tierney Managing Director, Irish Water
John Tierney Managing Director, Irish Water

Irish Water made a €138m loss last year, accounts published today for the business show.

The loss at the hugely controversial utility, which is part of Ervia, came as it assumed responsibility last year for all water-related operations and costs from 31 local authorities, in advance of domestic billing being initiated.

Irish Water assumed all the financial costs of operating the water system on January 1 last year. Consumers weren’t issued with water bills until this year, however.

READ MORE: Ervia is silent on cost of US trip to collect water gong

The company generated revenue of €687m last year, and while revenue will be higher this year, it will most likely be off target, as only 45pc of all its customers have paid their bills.

“Irish Water faced many challenges as it established the utility in 2014,” said Ervia chairman Rose Hynes in the company’s new annual report today. “Although the business delivered many key milestones it did not always get things right in its first year of operation.”

She added: “I would like to reiterate our apologies on behalf of the Board and Management for issues that impacted customer confidence during the year and assure our customers that

Irish Water, with the support of its parent company Ervia has learned from and built on its experience in 2014 to deliver on behalf of the people of Ireland.”

Irish Water’s operations include several thousand water extraction points, treatment plants, pumping stations and wastewater discharge points, approximately 58,000 kilometres of drinking water pipeline and an estimated 25,000 kilometres of wastewater pipelines.

The utility is spending €1.7bn to invest in water infrastructure between 2014 and 2016 to bring the network up to modern standards. By the end of 2014, Ervia had sourced available debt funding facilities of €412m for Irish Water, with a further €350m agreed in the first quarter of this year with Irish and international banks, it said.

“First and foremost we are building a modern utility to address the challenges that exist where half of Ireland’s clean drinking water is being lost through leaks, 44 towns have no wastewater treatment and the water supply to almost one million people is at risk of failure,” said Ervia chief executive Michael McNicholas.

He added: “Irish Water is focused on becoming a consumer led utility and earning the trust of its customers and the general public. While the scale of the change program and investment required is significant, Ervia and Irish Water are 100pc committed to delivering on the mission to upgrade the country’s ageing water network so that it is fit to support a modern and growing Irish economy.”

Mr McNicholas conceded earlier this week that Irish Water might not even exist after the upcoming general election.

Ervia also controls Gas Networks Ireland.

Total revenue at Ervia was €506m last year, in line with the amount generated in 2013.

Profit before exceptional items and income tax from continuing operations was €137m last year. That was 14pc, or €22m lower than in 2013, due to higher operating costs and depreciation charges associated with an “increasing asset base”, according to the company.

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