Limerick to be left high and dry by Irish Water

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INVESTMENT in Limerick water and wastewater projects will be hit by a massive 64 per cent cut to €10 million over the next four years under the latest plan from Irish Water.

‘A Summary of Irish Waters Infrastructure Investment Need’ indicates that almost €2.1 billion will be spent between 2017 and 2021 on schemes nationwide to improve water quality, securing supply and reducing leakage.

Irish Water reports that it already spent €860 million on water and wastewater projects nationwide between 2014 and 2016.

But, as part of the utility’s investment plan for 2017 to 2021, the Limerick spend is reduced to €10 million from the €28 million spent in the 2014 to 2016 plan.

Meanwhile, the water utility plans to boost funding by tens of millions of euro in Dublin, Donegal, Sligo, Cork, Westmeath, Meath and Louth.

€827 million will be spent in Dublin alone over the next four years on improving water and wastewater services. This is an increase of €648 million compared with what was spent between 2014 and 2016.

In Donegal, €151m will be invested, which is almost six times what was spent between 2014 and 2016, while Louth would see an increase from €7m up to €40m between 2017 and 2021.

Limerick joins other poor relations in Carlow, Offaly, Roscommon, Kildare and Waterford as the counties that will get less funding under the plan.

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan described the proposed 64 per cent cut to investment in water infrastructure in Limerick as “inexplicable” given the state of water infrastructure in the city and county.

“I am genuinely astonished at these figures outlining Irish Water’s projected spend on water infrastructure in the coming years. In Limerick, €28 million was spent over the past three years, but only €10 million is allocated for investment over the next five from 2017 to 2021. That will mean a decrease from €9.3 million per year to €2 million per year,” he told the Limerick Post.

“We need significantly more investment over the next five years, not less, and to cut Limerick’s share of spending by 64 per cent is inexplicable. The neglect of investment in our water services over the past decades has resulted in a system that is literally bursting at the seams.

“One particular point to note is the huge disparity between investment levels in Limerick and Dublin. €827 million is to be spent in Dublin, while €10 million is to be spent in Limerick. Using the 2016 Census population figures, this means an investment of €614.68 per person in Dublin, versus €51.23 per person in Limerick. This level of disparity is unacceptable,” he said.

Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea believes that Irish Water’s national spending plan defies all logic.

“You don’t have to look any further than the recent horrendous flooding at Bengal Terrace to see how bad some of the pipe network in Limerick is and there have been many other examples of burst water mains in Caherdavin and elsewhere in recent times.

“Irish Water is in full knowledge of the fact that much of the pipework in Limerick is sub-standard and yet they propose a cut in investment of 64 per cent? This cannot be tolerated,” he declared.

Solidarity councillor for City North, Cian Prendiville also feels the water utility’s latest investment plan makes no sense.

“The water network in Limerick is creaking. Some of the pipes are older than the State, and most are older than me.

“For decades, successive governments have underfunded water infrastructure, and now we are seeing the result, with burst water mains causing floods in Bengal Terrace and Corbally in the last few weeks alone. And now the government is proposing to dramatically cut the investment in Limerick’s water network?

“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“At this rate, they will have spent more putting in water meters than they are proposing to spend actually improving the network in Limerick.”

by Alan Jacques

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