Water charges ‘won’t happen’

Charging for water is not on the agenda for the government despite dwindling supplies, environment minister John Gormley has claimed.

Responding to comments from climate scientist Professor John Sweeney regarding the need to impose charges to regulate the scarce resource, Mr Gormley said he believed there were other ways of dealing with shortages.

Mr Gormley, who is also Green Party leader, said that government policy would focus on reducing leakages from water supply pipes.

“There will be substantial investment in water services to tackle leakages,” said Mr Gormley’s spokesman.

“It’s the best short-term to medium-term action to deal with shortages of water and is a viable alternative to charges.”

This opinion is in contrast to Professor Sweeney, head of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Unit at NUI Maynooth, who said: “Despite the last two summers, we expect summers to be drier.

“Because of that, water will become more of a premium product.

“If a resource like water becomes scarcer and demand becomes greater, it is inevitable that charging will be introduced.”

The amount of money spent on fixing leaks is one tenth of the total investment in water and waste water infrastructure.

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