The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water. It is a subsidiary of Bord Gáis Éireann. It is established under the Companies Act.
Irish Water was incorporated in July 2013 as a semi-state company under the Water Services Act 2013. It is to provide water and wastewater services as a single national provider.
Irish Water is incorporated as a private company under the Companies Act. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government may issue directions to Irish Water requiring it to comply with government policies as specified. The consent of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is required.
There are standard provisions in the legislation for recruitment of staff, maintenance of superannuation plans, including provisions relevant to former local authority employees. The Minister may make payments to Irish water in relation to superannuation, cost of members of staff accepted into the employment of Irish Water.
The Minister of the Environment Community and Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance is to consent to the terms of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Irish Water. One share is held by Bord Gáis Éireann and 50% of the remaining shares are issued to each of the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Finance respectively. The shares issued to the ministers are non-voting shares. Bord Gáis Éireann may not dispose of its shares without the consent of the Minister for Environment and Minister for Finance.
The detailed Memorandum and Articles of Association are to be approved by the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Communications and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. There are various provisions written into the Memorandum and Articles in relation to the offices of director. There are restrictions on director’s holdings certain incompatible offices. There are statutory obligations on directors to disclose interests.
There are also statutory obligations on employees of the new company who have a material interest in any contract or arrangement proposed, to disclose the same to the company. They are not to take part in any negotiations or deliberations whatsoever in relation to the contract or arrangement. They are not to influence or seek to influence any decision relating to the matter. This does not apply to employment contract.
There are statutory restrictions on disclosure of confidential information binding on directors/consultants and advisors.
The Bord Gáis Éireann may borrow monies with the consent of the Ministers for the Environment, Communication, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Public Expenditure. The subsidiary may borrow money with the consent of the various ministries. Aggregate borrowings are not to exceed €500 million.
The Minister may make grants out of public monies to Bord Gáis Éireann, Irish Water or the Commission for Energy Regulation.
The consent of the Minister for Environment and Public Expenditure is required in respect of capital expenditure above certain limits. This is specified by the above ministers from time to time by order.
The Irish Water is to keep proper accounts of income and expenditure and of all other money spent and received. Special accounts are to be kept in such form as the Minister for the Environment shall direct with the consent of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Public Expenditure.
There is provision for submission of audited accounts annually to the Minister who shall lay them before the Oireachtas. The Irish Water is to prepare a report in the performance of activities in the area of water supply in the previous period annually. The Minister is to lay the report before the Oireachtas.
Irish Water began to take over the responsibilities of local authorities in water and sewage areas from January 2014. It was to be fully established by 2019 by which stage it was expected to be responsible for the operation of public water services including
- management of national water assets,
- maintenance of the water system,
- investment planning,
- managing capital.
It is also to be responsible for capital and investment decisions regarding the national water infrastructure.
The functions of Irish Water under the legislation includes the following:
- roll-out of the water metering programme;
- treatment and distribution of drinking water;
- collection and treatment of wastewater and sludge disposal;
- strategic management of water management resources;
- sourcing private investment finance in capital projects;
- customer billing and relationship management;
- conservation of water supplies.
The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013 provided for the transfer of functions, property and staff in respect of water services and sewage services from local authorities to Irish Water. The Local Government (Delimitation of Water Supply Disconnection Powers) Act, 1995 was repealed.
The local authorities continued to have powers which were transferred to Irish Water which were necessary for the performance of local authority functions under other legislation. This includes domestic waste water treatment systems and rural water services.
The legislation transfers all assets including buildings, water service infrastructure, vehicles, pipes, sewers and money from the relevant local authorities to Irish Water. Staff were transferred. There was provision for consultation and agreement between local authorities and Irish Water in relation to transfer of staff.
Irish Water may enter agreements with local authorities by which local authorities provide services on behalf of Irish Water. The Minister may direct Irish Water and local authorities to enter such agreements and specify the functions to be included. It may include provision for standards to be met by a local authority and to delivery of services on behalf of Irish Water.
The initial agreement between the Irish Water and local authority is subject to review after the second and seventh year. It was intended that the initial agreement is for 12 years unless there is a significant failure on the part of local authorities to provide services under the agreement.
Codes of practice may be prepared by Irish Water for approval by the Commission for Energy Regulation. They will make provision for customer service standards, billing, methods of payment of water charges, provision of information to customers and other matters deemed necessary by the Commission.
Irish Water is to prepare a water services strategic plan to be submitted to the Minister. It is to set out the objectives of Irish Water in respect of the 25 year period following approval of the plan and the means by which it proposes to achieve its objective.
In preparing the water services strategic plan, Irish Water is to have regard to proper planning and sustainable development, ensuring insofar as practicable that the plan is consistent with the national spatial strategy, visual planning guidelines and river basin management plan. The policy must have regard to policy considerations including housing strategies, strategic development and water quality plans.
Irish Water is to prepare investment plans where it considers investment in infrastructure is necessary to perform its functions. It must take account of the water services strategic plan above, other policy considerations including local area plans, regional planning guidelines and any strategic development zone.
Before undertaking investment, Irish Water is to consult with the Environmental Protection Agency, regional bodies in whose area the investment plan is likely to apply and each planning authority in respect of whose functional area the investment plan is to apply. The investment plan is prepared for a two year period after the transfer date. Future plans will be for durations determined by the CER.
The Irish Water has power to borrow money with the consent of the Minister for Environment, Communications; Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure. The aggregate amount of value is limited to €2 billion.
The Minister for the Environment may make grants to Irish Water or the CER. In determining the provision of a grant, the Minister may consider the investment plan provided by Irish Water.
Irish Water may request a person to provide information required for its functions. A relevant person is obliged to comply with the request. BGE has an equivalent authority to require and obtain information.
The Commission for Energy Regulation may do all things necessary or expedient for the purpose of the performance of water regulatory functions. The Commission may advise the government in relation to the development of policy in relation to regulation of the provision of water services. The Commission may consult with BGE, Irish Water and water services authority for the purpose of this provision.
Water regulatory functions include settling charges for water services, specification of minimum standards, protection of the interests of consumers.
The legislation transfers the provisions in relation to charging for water services from the water services authority to Bord Gáis Éireann and Irish Water. They are to be performable in the same manner as they would have been performable by a water service authority. They are to be subject to the same consents and conditions which would have applied.
BGE is to keep accounts of monies received or expended in the performance of its functions. The format is to be approved by the Minister for the Environment with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure.
BGE is to submit a report on its activities to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The Minister is to lay the annual report before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Minister for the Environment may give directions to BGE in relation to the performance of its functions. The consent of the Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources is required to the direction. BGE and Irish Water must comply with the directions.
Land used for the provision of public water services is not rateable for the purpose
The 2014 Act made a number of amendments to pensions provision in respect of Irish Water. Irish Water is confirmed not to be liable for past service of officers of the Minister or local authorities, other than due the effect of any increase in pension or remuneration by Irish Water. The cost of pension provision for past service for such employees remains funded by State.
The Minister may make an order by which water services property is transferred from a local authority to Irish Water. Loans associated with the property are not automatically transferred. Transfer by the Minister shall not be treated as disposal of property by the local authority. There is provision to ensure that there was no adverse impact on the financial standing of the local authorities arising from the transfer of assets from the local authority to Irish Water.
of domestic rates and the valuation act. This exemption applies to Irish Water for the provision of water supply and waste water treatment and to group water supplies.
Provision is made for the increase in the maximum number of members of the Board of Ervia.
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