Assets - Asset Owners in Ireland

Since 1 January 2014, responsibility for the efficient supply of water to homes and businesses has transferred from local authorities to Irish Water, the new national water services authority. Funding for maintaining and improving the water supply infrastructure (pipes, filtration and disinfection systems) comes from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Irish Water is responsible for the operation of public water services including management of national water assets, maintenance of the water system, investment and planning, managing capital projects and customer care and billing.

Irish Water is responsible for:

• Delivering water and wastewater services to homes and businesses

• Maintaining the current water infrastructure

• Investing in Ireland's future water infrastructure Irish Water is a subsidiary of Ervia, Ireland’s first multi-utility company responsible for strategic national water and gas infrastructure and services.

Public water schemes

Public water mains are administered and maintained by local authorities. This water is supplied to homes and businesses in urban areas. At present, charges are only levied on water supplied to commercial premises. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government funds the provision and upgrading of capital projects in water and wastewater services. Local authorities administer the actual building of public water supply projects. Stringent water testing is carried out on all public waters by local authorities and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Group water schemes

Many households that are not connected to a public water supply are served by group water schemes. These schemes are formed by two or more households coming together to provide their own common water supply. The group elects trustees to act on behalf of its members in all dealings with the local authority. Usually, group schemes are established in areas where the local authority does not intend to install a water supply system in the near future, or at all. Group water schemes can get water supplies from the public mains, if possible, or a private source like wells or lakes. You have to pay for your water if you belong to a private group water scheme. However, local authorities do provide subsidies for each house in a group scheme.

Local authorities have the remit to test the water supply and ensure it is safe to drink but they are not responsible for maintaining group scheme pipes and filtration systems. If the members of a group water scheme want the local authority to take over the running of the scheme, they must sign a waiver to allow local authority personnel on their land to maintain pipes, etc. The group must give the local authority a map of the pipe system and give it access to test pipes for leakage. If the local authority takes over the scheme, it is then responsible for maintaining the water system. However, if a group water scheme remains fully private, it may get technical and grant assistance from the local authority for any necessary upgrading works. The National Federation of Group Water Schemes is a co-operative society, established to represent the interests of members of group water schemes. It also provides advisory, training, developmental and other services to scheme members.