Irish Water to become stand-alone national utility

Irish Water is to be separated from its parent company Ervia and established as a single national utility to operate the state’s water services.

These proposals have been backed by the Irish cabinet and will come into effect by 2023. Under this new arrangement Irish Water will become solely responsible for the production, distribution and monitoring of drinking water and for the provision of public wastewater services.

Currently the utility has so-called service level agreements (SLAs) with local authorities to operate such services on its behalf. That regime will come to an end in 2021.

Government spokespersons have insisted that Irish Water was always a standalone entity within the Ervia group.

They have briefed journalists that now domestic water charges have been abolished and with new oversight measures exercised by the Comptroller and Auditor General the time was ripe for “separating the water company out of Ervia entirely”.

Some estimates suggest that ending the SLAs early could mean savings of around of €70 million per year.

Meanwhile Eoghan Murphy, the minister responsible for the water industry, has confirmed he has received advice from the Attorney General Séamus Woulfe on potential wording for a referendum on enshrining public ownership of water services in the Constitution.