Galway East Deputy Michael Kitt has told the Dáil that a full upgrade of Galway’s water services is needed before households that are plagued by chronic water problems are forced to pay hefty charges.

Speaking on a Fianna Fáil on water charges in the Dáil last week, Deputy Kitt said it’s unacceptable that the entire focus of Irish Water so far has been on the charging mechanism and not on fixing serious problems with the water supply in certain areas.

“It’s estimated that 40% of the country’s water supply is wasted due to leakage. This alone highlights the need for serious investment in the network and in the mains. In addition, many Galway communities are consistently hit with boil water notices and regular problems with water quality and supply,” said Deputy Kitt.

“Hundreds of millions worth of taxpayers’ money has been pumped into setting up this new super quango Irish Water and not one cent of it has been spent on upgrading the water supply. It means that many Galway households will begin to clock up significant charges from October for a service that is not up to scratch.

“I believe we need a full upgrade of the water system in Galway before charges kick in. It’s only after that that we could have equity in water pricing. The very first job of Irish Water was supposed to be to carry out a full audit of the country’s water supply. This never happened. The entire focus has been on getting money from households and not on the service they will get in return.

“There’s still a huge amount of confusion surrounding the Government’s water charging regime and it’s causing great anger and distress among many householders. After doing their absolute utmost to avoid having to come clean on the extent of water charges ahead of the local and European elections, Fine Gael and Labour have been forced to announce that ‘average’ charges will be €240. However, it looks like costs could be more like €400 a year for middle-income families who have to subsidise those on lower incomes. It’s yet another unfair burden on those middle income earners who have already been hit from every angle.

“The priority of Irish Water should be to create a water system that is fit for purpose before it imposes charges for that service. Unfortunately, all we are seeing is a drip-feed of information about how much this will cost Galway households while absolutely nothing has been done to guarantee them a quality water service for their money.”