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The National Water Agency

  • 30-01-2011 3:33pm
    #1
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    No, you didn't hear me wrong. This was slithered out on a busy news day.

    http://www.etenders.gov.ie/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=JAN196335
    The assessment should determine the most effective structure(s) for delivering high quality competitively priced water services to customers (domestic and non-domestic) and for infrastructure provision. In particular, the review will consider whether a national water utility would be more efficient and cost effective than the existing implementation and operation structures across the 34 city and county councils. It is anticipated that this review will cover the legal framework and financial and economic dimensions as well as organisational issues, having regard to international experience and relevant examples of best practice. The appointment will be on a fixed price lump sum basis with the study to be completed by 30 September 2011.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭ annfield1978


    good idea, a bit of joined up thinking and one entity being responsible makes sense

    with roads, theres the NRA, the NTA, the councils, the DoT, in Dublin the DTO etc lunacy!!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,297 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan


    Creating one body to control and develop our water infrastructure was originally proposed by Fine Gael. Looks to me like FF just want to set the wheels in motion so they can claim it came from them.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,057 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    This could work, or it could be a woeful failure. If the councils are left with *any* control, it'll be the woeful failure.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,278 ✭✭✭ dowlingm


    It's another quango though. Where's accountability going to come from? (And yes, I realise that in the current model there's not much either)

    Definitely some kind of technical ability (engineers, microbiologists and so on) must be a prerequisite to board membership, not "canvassed for the Minister every election since 1981".


  • Registered Users Posts: 191 ✭✭ Pappacharlie


    This has great potential as long as its not privatisation by the back door. I note on the e-tenders proposal reference to the IMF agreement. It is vital that any such authority remains in state control.
    There could be major benefits of having a single entity in charge. Standardisation of work standards as well as value for money as a result of major projects being overseen by a single authority.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭ annfield1978


    so would a consultant engineering company assisted by an KMPG/ Accenture type company be best placed to respond to this tender?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,297 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan


    dowlingm wrote: »
    It's another quango though. Where's accountability going to come from? (And yes, I realise that in the current model there's not much either)

    It is another quango but it will replace the water department from our 34 local authorities so will actually lead to less bureaucracy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,278 ✭✭✭ dubhthach


    Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    It is another quango but it will replace the water department from our 34 local authorities so will actually lead to less bureaucracy.

    Well that was suppose to be the case when the HSE was formed. However no voluntary redundancy/reassignment within the public service occurred, as a result they have 2400 people in HR when they could "get by with just 700"


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,278 ✭✭✭ dowlingm


    Here's the problem with dogmatism about privatisation (and by that I DON'T mean sales of assets, I mean leasing out or otherwise allowing private management of public resources).

    There's a lot of pension funds out there, some Irish but more international, looking for boring but reasonably stable investments. Canada Pension Plan, Caisse de depot du Quebec, Ontario Teachers and Ontario Municipal Employees invest billions overseas in this sort of stuff as do infrastructure companies like SNC Lavalin using the same arrangements as the consortiums bidding for Metro North, and therefore it could be a major source of FDI when at present we have few others. It wouldn't just be water but airports, full tolling of all motorways by replacing tax discs with transponders and so on.

    The issue with these things is to do it with more transparency than PPPs have been done heretofore, and if the pension funds don't like it then we continue as we are. The danger is a bad contract outwith public scrutiny like the Poolbeg incinerator.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,278 ✭✭✭ dubhthach


    dowlingm wrote: »
    Here's the problem with dogmatism about privatisation (and by that I DON'T mean sales of assets, I mean leasing out or otherwise allowing private management of public resources).

    There's a lot of pension funds out there, some Irish but more international, looking for boring but reasonably stable investments. Canada Pension Plan, Caisse de depot du Quebec, Ontario Teachers and Ontario Municipal Employees invest billions overseas in this sort of stuff as do infrastructure companies like SNC Lavalin using the same arrangements as the consortiums bidding for Metro North, and therefore it could be a major source of FDI when at present we have few others. It wouldn't just be water but airports, full tolling of all motorways by replacing tax discs with transponders and so on.

    The issue with these things is to do it with more transparency than PPPs have been done heretofore, and if the pension funds don't like it then we continue as we are. The danger is a bad contract outwith public scrutiny like the Poolbeg incinerator.

    Indeed an example that in place at the moment in Ireland is E-Net running the MAN's (Metropolitan Area Networks). These are Fibre networks in 95 towns that are owned by the local authorities (basically the state) but the management of them is run by a private company, this make sense I wouldn't want a bunch of Mandarins running a Fibre optic network. When they privatised Telecom Éireann they should have spilt it into 2. A networks company which owned the assets (state owned) and a privatised operating company that took over the customers/services.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,106 antoobrien


    Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    It is another quango but it will replace the water department from our 34 local authorities so will actually lead to less bureaucracy.
    It'll be interesting to see how they get rid of the local councils participation in the water infrastructure. Personally I don't think they can do this entirely because the needs are vastly different in different parts of the country. To take an example compare counties Cork, Galway, Mayo & Donegal which have vastly bigger rural areas to service than most of the country and a number of medium to large urban centers to Dublin where the population centers are much more closer together. They have two vastly different sets of problems.

    While I like the idea of getting rid of the local council control over water (Galway city council just can't run their service), big centrally controlled bodies often end up concentrating on particular areas to the detriment of the rest of the country. Who knows, with the national mess that our water has been, maybe we'll benefit.

    What I see likely out of this is that the local authority water departments will end up not being responsible to the city council but the national authority, with funding also being removed from the local budgets and rates paid to the national authority.

    They also need to have a serious look at the operation of group schemes, which is a perennial bugbear of many rural dwellers (from both quality and administration side) and set standards and rules for them.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 6,367 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Macha


    Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    Creating one body to control and develop our water infrastructure was originally proposed by Fine Gael. Looks to me like FF just want to set the wheels in motion so they can claim it came from them.

    In fairness, efforts behind this initiative started last year some time.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Farrahy100 wrote: »
    The rules are there to punish members who, in the view of a board given unlimited powers and legal immunity, transgress. €500 to turn a stopcock and reconnect a family who may have fallen behind with payments. That is punishment.
    This is not true, that is a specific fine for a connecting someone illegally not a fine for falling behind. The someone could be a mobile home in the field next door who are too mean to pay into the group as a new connection meaning everyone else subsidises THEIR connection.

    The water used will be payable by the original connection.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ Farrahy100


    I quoted from the rules directly. You may choose to say this is not so but I can prove all that I said. save one thing. A mistake I did make. The Federation of Group Water Schemes in more democratic than I claimed.

    The number of members needed for a quoram is not seven, as I said, it is ten.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Just don't hook someone up on the fly and that rule does not apply, simples.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ Farrahy100


    There is only one reference to a reconnection charge in the new NFGWS rules and I quoted it. I reproduce it here again, in full.

    16. A reconnection fee of €500 shall be charged in all cases. The Board may review this fee from time to time.

    Saying something is not true is a little simplistic Bob. The rule says "In all cases". It does NOT, as you claim, say in the case of an unlawful third party supply only. Our Board HAVE used the threat and quoted this reconnection cost in a dispute that DID NOT involve any third party supply and I have a Solicitors letter to prove it.

    I have had the rules checked by our solicitor and what I have posted is true. Legally, rather than as you choose to interpret it, it clearly states in all cases a reconnection fee of €500 will apply.

    One other small point. If I go to my supermarket and buy a dozen bottles of water do they have the right to tell me who will be allowed to drink it?

    We purchase our water and NOBODY has any right to dictate who we allow to drink it. Water is, next to the air we breath, the most important item in our lives. These rules claim ownership of the water AFTER we have purchased it!

    The NFGWS rules are punitive. They do not even specify what constitutes a "Supply". That is the prerogative of the "Board". A single cup passed over the fence? Perhaps a bucketful to flush a toilet?

    I posted here to warn others of this danger to the principles and democracy of Community Group Water Schemes. We are hard pressed to find any truth or justice at this time and place. We can do nothing about the great and the good but, where we have a voice, no matter how small, we need to speak to defend our and our neighbours rights.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,926 ✭✭✭ davo10


    You can invite people in to your home and they can drink as much water as they like, but they cannot tap in to your supply so as to obtain water for their house, if they could what is to stop one person purchasing the water and then allowing a whole row of houses on to their pipe?. Its a no brainer.

    lastly if you buy 5 bottles of water in Tesco, you can't then say "I'm just going to take 5 more for my neighbour free of charge"


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,088 ✭✭✭✭ kippy


    davo10 wrote: »
    You can invite people in to your home and they can drink as much water as they like, but they cannot tap in to your supply so as to obtain water for their house, if they could what is to stop one person purchasing the water and then allowing a whole row of houses on to their pipe?. Its a no brainer.

    I would think there would be some pressure issues.......


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,926 ✭✭✭ davo10


    kippy wrote: »
    I would think there would be some pressure issues.......

    I have trouble with pressure in my house never mind what it would be like if my neighbour tapped off our supply, it's a very good point Kippy.

    As for the quorum issue, changes are usually made because of low attendence at meetings, without a quorum no decisions can be made at all. I think it is incumbent on any member who wants to raise issues regarding the workings of a group, to attend meetings, if they do not then they should accept the decision of the majority who do bother to turn up.

    I do not think the €500 is in regard to "a cup of water", its more likely to relate to the domestic supply ie H2O used more toilets/showers/taps/heating etc


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ Farrahy100


    let us walk gently here.

    Forget your reactions.

    Ask this only.

    Community Group water Schemes are folk helping folk. no more and no less.

    We make it possible for you and you make it possible for us.

    Why change the rules to punish each other. Why would you want to something like that?

    If somebody cannot pay. So be it.

    I will declare a truth of us.

    No circumstances that I can envision would allow me to sanction the withdrawal of water from anybody.

    Water is life.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,088 ✭✭✭✭ kippy


    Farrahy100 wrote: »
    let us walk gently here.

    Forget your reactions.

    Ask this only.

    Community Group water Schemes are folk helping folk. no more and no less.

    We make it possible for you and you make it possible for us.

    Why change the rules to punish each other. Why would you want to something like that?

    If somebody cannot pay. So be it.

    I will declare a truth of us.

    No circumstances that I can envision would allow me to sanction the withdrawal of water from anybody.

    Water is life.
    Group water schemes dont work too well in large urban areas.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ Farrahy100


    There is only one reference to a reconnection charge in the new NFGWS rules and I quoted it. I reproduce it here again, in full.

    16. A reconnection fee of €500 shall be charged in all cases. The Board may review this fee from time to time.

    Saying something is not true is a little simplistic Bob. The rule says "In all cases". It does NOT, as you claim, say in the case of an unlawful third party supply only. Our Board HAVE used the threat and quoted this reconnection cost in a dispute that DID NOT involve any third party supply and I have a Solicitors letter to prove it.

    I have had the rules checked by our solicitor and what I have posted is true. Legally, rather than as you choose to interpret it, it clearly states in all cases a reconnection fee of €500 will apply.

    One other small point. If I go to my supermarket and buy a dozen bottles of water do they have the right to tell me who will be allowed to drink it?

    We purchase our water and NOBODY has any right to dictate who we allow to drink it. Water is, next to the air we breath, the most important item in our lives.

    The NFGWS rules are punitive and nasty. They do not specify what constitutes a "Supply". That is the prerogative of the "Board". A single cup passed over the fence? Perhaps a bucketful to flush a toilet?

    I posted here to warn others of this danger to the principles and democracy of Community Group Water Schemes. We are hard pressed to find any truth or justice at this time and place. We can do nothing about the great and the good but, where we have a voice, no matter how small, we need to speak to defend our rights and our neighbours rights.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,926 ✭✭✭ davo10


    Farraghy the morality of cutting someones water off is a completely different issue and deserves to be discussed in the "morality" forum. As for "folk helping folk", though this is romantic and enviable, it is not realistic. Food and clothing are also necessities but we do not expect them to be free.

    You yourself vent against few making the decisions that effect many, if all members have to pay, is your decision to allow others to tap your line and avoid payment not effecting the group as a whole?, if you wrote to all fellow members in your scheme and asked them is it ok that even though they paid for their houses, if a couple of your neighbours avoided paying for water by tapping in to your pipe, what do you think their reaction would be?.

    There is nothing wrong with changes to the articles you posted and if you have to pay for your water, it's appropriate that you pay a fine if you facilitate someone else to avoid paying. You are stealing water from the scheme and your fellow members.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    Water is not being stolen, connection charges are a separate issue entirely. Money is being stolen if anything...but not actually water :)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,221 BrianD


    Farrahy100 wrote: »
    let us walk gently here.

    Forget your reactions.

    Ask this only.

    Community Group water Schemes are folk helping folk. no more and no less.

    We make it possible for you and you make it possible for us.

    Why change the rules to punish each other. Why would you want to something like that?

    If somebody cannot pay. So be it.

    I will declare a truth of us.

    No circumstances that I can envision would allow me to sanction the withdrawal of water from anybody.

    Water is life.

    I think you need a reality check. Water is life and clean drinking water is not an infinite resource.

    Don't forget that a group, public or private scheme is about the supply of water. There's plenty of folk that conveniently forget that supply infrastructure has to be installed and maintained. Anybody tapping into the line is stealing that service from others. You wouldn't tap into the electric supply?

    BTW the individuals in many of these rural schemes could help themselves by installing rain water tanks for non-drinking purposes.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ Farrahy100


    Is it not interesting that the responses to this posting mostly concern themselves with the possibility of persons stealing water or the injustice of some paying and others not.

    My point was that the new rules allow a board to disconnect a household for ANY infraction of the rules and that a reconnection fee of €500 will apply in all cases.

    Formally a board could not remove any member/shareholders water supply without putting it to a meeting of members. Now they need not consult the members at all.

    SpongeBob gave an opinion that this rule only applied to a third party illegal supply. He was not correct in this opinion. The rule says what it says.

    The "Boards" require that you surrender ALL your legal rights of redress before they will supply you with water!

    They have the right to change the name, structure or formation and even the function of the company.

    They can supply non members of the scheme without any consultation with member/shareholders. Community Group Water Schemes were run by volunteers for the benefit of that community. ALL of whom became members and shareholders with a voice in the running of their scheme.

    These new rules remove the fundamental democratic consultations of member shareholders at the heart of the principals of the co-operative model and pass all the key power from members to the Group Water Scheme Boards. Boards that can be composed of ten people. This in turn is the new minimum legal quorum for GWS meetings, regardless of the total number of member/shareholders.

    We live in a country that was bankrupted by small powerful groups that were accountable to nobody. This was not a model I care to have running our GWS.

    I have declared my views plainly. But I would remind you that when you use legality as the basis of your morality.

    You have no morality.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭ Sponge Bob


    But if you are on a GWS you are an equal shareholder, the Board is not 'it' it is YOU !!!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,221 BrianD


    Farrahy100 wrote: »
    Is it not interesting that the responses to this posting mostly concern themselves with the possibility of persons stealing water or the injustice of some paying and others not.

    My point was that the new rules allow a board to disconnect a household for ANY infraction of the rules and that a reconnection fee of €500 will apply in all cases.

    Formally a board could not remove any member/shareholders water supply without putting it to a meeting of members. Now they need not consult the members at all.

    SpongeBob gave an opinion that this rule only applied to a third party illegal supply. He was not correct in this opinion. The rule says what it says.

    The "Boards" require that you surrender ALL your legal rights of redress before they will supply you with water!

    They have the right to change the name, structure or formation and even the function of the company.

    They can supply non members of the scheme without any consultation with member/shareholders. Community Group Water Schemes were run by volunteers for the benefit of that community. ALL of whom became members and shareholders with a voice in the running of their scheme.

    These new rules remove the fundamental democratic consultations of member shareholders at the heart of the principals of the co-operative model and pass all the key power from members to the Group Water Scheme Boards. Boards that can be composed of ten people. This in turn is the new minimum legal quorum for GWS meetings, regardless of the total number of member/shareholders.

    We live in a country that was bankrupted by small powerful groups that were accountable to nobody. This was not a model I care to have running our GWS.

    I have declared my views plainly. But I would remind you that when you use legality as the basis of your morality.

    You have no morality.

    I think you are exaggerating the issue and looking at worst case scenario or regulation - which seems to be a very 'Irish' thing. The fines for infractions are there for good reason - as they are for many other types of utility supplies and other services. There's seems to be some sort of Irish thing that everything should be subject to a court of law or tribunal. Same attitude with the three strikes and your out for broadband. There was much talk of Eircom being judge and jury.

    It is better that these sort of services are run on a more commercial basis. It doesn't necessarily mean that they are no longer community run by the community for the community. They become more efficient when everyone paid up. Look at the TV Deflector systems - half of the 'subscribers' never paid their dues so, even if legislation allowed, there was never a business model to develope the service further. People eventually started subscribing to the commercial operators.

    There's nothing immoral about what's proposed. These systems will be unworkable in the long run unless the adopt a more rigid and commercially orientated framework.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19 ✭✭✭ Farrahy100


    Ah, Spongebob you clever fellow.

    Our GWS board is the key.

    Seeing how these new rules can be used and abused is indeed part of our concerns.

    However listing the turgid history and the strokes our board have pulled will only confuse the issue here. I will however give you a flavour.

    Having completely wrecked an EU part funded €500.000 plus upgrade by utter incompetence. Our board called the first AGM in over three years in a newsletter to members.

    In this same newsletter they quoted the I.C.O.S drafted rules for the election of the board of the GWS. But they did not just quote the rules they added one. This stated that members owing any money to the GWS could not be a board member.

    Given the members disputes with the board, following the collapse of the upgrade, and bills of almost a thousand euro going out to members, instead of the original estimated €300 per member. I will come as no surprise for you to learn that this little forgery eliminated no fewer than 60% of the membership from election.

    The board later claimed this was “A comment” forgetting that they had written to one member quoting this “Rule” as to why he could not stand.

    We wrote to FGWS including a copy of the newsletter and the rules . They did not want to know. I.C.O.S did not want to know. Nobody gave a fig.

    We have no protection and no authority to handle our complaints. We are supposed to be able to go to arbitration at I.C.O.S but if they don’t think forging the rules for the election of the board is worth their time. They are of little use.

    Oh yes, to add insult to injury, the board also faked the minutes of that AGM claiming three motions passed that were never mentioned!

    How can this be? What about your fellow members?

    Good question.

    I have said these new rules are punitive and unnecessary in the hands of good people. In the hands of people with their own agenda they are a calamity.

    Why cannot a GWS be run for the benefit of the members? Better run commercially! That is the old privatisation is always better dogma. On British rail it killed in the low hundreds and took prices to the roof. Telecom has been sold time and time again and asset stripped to the bone. Our broadband is worse than Albania. People who manage by caring about people and thinking long term are so much better than people who manage only for profit.

    A manager was asked “Why do you think your staff are able, motivated, intelligent and multi-talented. Except for the eight hours they work for you?”


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,221 BrianD


    In fairness, the issue seems not to be the rules but your own board. Unfortunately, it seems the best advice might be to get legal advice.

    I understand your desire for a community run basis but I think a tightly run co-op run on a commercial basis is probably your best bet.

    Start taking a lot of notes on what's happening!


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