Water Services Act (pre Irish Water reorganisaton)
The Water Services Act transfers the water functions from sanitary authorities to county authorities. They are renamed water services authority in their capacity as the provider of water services. They are responsible for water services in their areas through a system of licensing.
The water services authority is responsible for the supervision of water services through licensing. An owner or occupier must provide a water services authority with information in relation to the ownership. Offences under the Act may be prosecuted. The Court may order an offender to make good damage.
The Department of the Environment and Local Government must facilitate the provision of safe and efficient water infrastructure. The Department is responsible for the performance of the water services authorities in their statutory functions and for planning and supervision of investment in water services. They may produce guidance, issue directions and monitor and compare performance. It may issue a compliance notice specifying corrective action.
Water service authorities have powers to provide, facilitate and supervise the provision of water services in their area. Water services must be provided and consistent with national policy. Each water services authority must ensure that water meets prescribed standards. The water services authority may specify technical requirements for connection to the water mains or sewers.
Each water services authority must make a strategic plan for its functional areas and have it approved by the Department of Local Government and the Environment. Water service authorities are empowered to lay water pipes and drains under land. They enjoy certain exemptions and privileges from planning legislation.
A water services authority may require that a premises be connected to a water supply located nearby subject to appeal to the District Court. There is a provision to provide ancillary works. Where pipes must be laid to adjoining land the water services authority must carry out the works but may recover the cost.
The water services authority may provide or take in charge a service connection. After this time it will be responsible for its renewal and maintenance. Otherwise, responsibility will lie with the owner of the premises. The water services authority may direct or order remedial work or undertake the work itself and recover the cost or contribution.
A water services authority can repair service connections on private land not belonging to the Order being serviced. The water services authority may recover the cost. It is an offence to damage any water main, sewer or drain belonging to the water service providers. The water service authorities must verify and monitor the performance of their functions.
Water service authorities must record and maintain the location of all water mains, sewers and treatment works and make records available to the public.
Enforcement and regulation
Water services may be interrupted for maintenance where there is a risk or where there is a risk to the public. Generally, notices must be given except in an emergency. The council may recover sums due or register a charge on premises for sums due under the regulation.
It is an offence to waste or have made an unauthorised use or connection to a water supply. Owners must maintain an internal water distribution system in good repair free from risk. Owners may be directed to carry out remedial works or carry out necessary repairs themselves and recover the cost. The water services authority can require pipes to be opened for inspection prior to connection. Best technical requirements may be specified.
Measures may be directed to the purpose of water conservation. Corrective action may be taken to prevent water from being wasted or consumed in excess of amounts. Orders restricting use may be made. Appeals may be made to the District Court. Emergency notices are enough subject to appeals. Water service authorities may take samples. If the samples do not meet the requisite standards a warning may be issued. Polluted water sources may be close down permanently or temporarily as required.
Wster Water and Sewers
There are parallel provisions in relation to waste water and sewers. All water service providers must keep their sewers in good order. There is no automatic right to connect to a water services authority sewer. It is an offence to connect without consent. Planning permission is deemed to include consent unless otherwise indicated.
The water service authority can require communicating conduits to be laid open for inspection prior to connection to a sewer owned or used by it. It may specify technical requirements and recover inspection costs.
The authority may inspect sewers and direct remedial works. It may carry them out and recover the cost. The discharge of trade effluent requires licensing by the water services authority. The water services authority made it clear a drain to be a sewer which is vested in it and under its control. There is a duty on owners and occupiers to ensure waste water does not create nuisance or risk to health or the environment.
Discharges which would block or adversely affect sewer or water treatment process are prohibited. Discharge of pollutant matter to a sewer providing for storm water is prohibited. There is a direct access to the District Court for anybody affected by duty under this section.
There are provisions for meters in respect of water supplies and waste water discharges. Meters may be provided. There is a provision allowing access for maintenance and reading. Meters must be kept in good order. The reading is presumptive proof of the level of use.
It is an offence to tamper with a metre or manufacture or possess anything which may interfere with measuring. The cost or reinstatement or fixing of a metre may be recovered as may value fraudulently unrecorded under authorised use.
Administration (Pre-Irish Water)
There is a national and county committee structure for the administration of rural water services. The national rural water services committee advises the Minister on rural policy and related matters. A water services authority may make a water services strategic plan in relation to its functional area.
A water service authority is responsible for the supervision of water services in its functional area. Water service authorities must generally be licensed subject to certain exceptions. Licences may be granted or refused subject to conditions.
Conditions may be applied in respect of human health, environmental treatment standards, sampling, monitoring, supervision. Licences are reviewed at least once every five years. Licences may be revoked under certain circumstances. There is an appeal to the District Court in respect of a licensing decision.
Management of Infrastructure
Water services authority may take over management of waterworks or waste waterworks on a temporary basis where the continued operation would endanger health or environment, where there has been a breach of conditions, if there are occupational provisions or if the licence is refused or revoked.
It may recover costs from the water services provider. A water service authority may require a provider to facilitate connection through its works by another person to the waterworks or waste waterworks of authority.
There are powers of acquisition for water services.
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