New water meters project will bring in up to 2,000 jobs
THE NEW company set up to manage the country's water supply is to create up to 2,000 jobs.
Irish Water will oversee the installation of meters in every home and then manage the supply.
The plan, which was confirmed to the Herald by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, is to set up a body that will operate along the lines of the ESB.
It will offer opportunities for a range of tradespeople, including construction workers, engineers, quantity surveyors, technicians, plumbers.
When the installation programme is completed, continued investment of €600m a year in water services will ensure an ongoing number of jobs, Mr Hogan said.
"Jobs are at the core of this Government plan," he said. "The rollout of the water metering programme will result in direct employment for approximately 2,000 much-needed good quality jobs for the construction sector," he said. The investment will be substantially funded by new domestic charges.
Mr Hogan made the announcement in advance of next week's launch of a public consultation on reforms of the sector.
Among the reforms will be the introduction of a universal domestic water metering programme, which is to start by the end of the year. The installation scheme will take three years.
A State capital investment in water and waste water services of some €600m a year is required, according to an independent assessment carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Mr Hogan pointed out this far exceeds the capacity of the Exchequer to fund in the current economic climate.
Irish Water will therefore have to be funded by charges from domestic and non-domestic customers. Income would also be earned through the ownership of the assets transferred from local authorities.
Some €371m in Government funding is being provided to the sector in 2012 for capital investment.
"We have a serious funding challenge at the moment. The introduction of a fair funding model for water services, which will include charges for households, will allow us maintain high levels of investment in water services," Mr Hogan said.
He added: "A commitment to establish Irish Water as a public utility will allow for a higher level of capital investment in the sector through a long-term multi-annual programme sustaining and creating further jobs."