Taking responsibility away from county councils is a terrible mistake county councillors told senior managment in county council last week.
By the end of this year, the local authority should have transferred all their information on the counties water to Bord Gais, legislation will have been enacteed and the tariff confirmed.
A meter installation programme should also be underway with 160,000 meters expected to be installed and the call centre will be live.
“It’s a terrible mistake handing the water over to a company that will more than likely be privatised. Laois County Council have always supplied good quality water, mainly because it was from boreholes,” Councillor Brendan Phelan said.
He expressed concern for landowners near boreholes, once the water supply was transferred from the council.
“There is major restriction on landowners near boreholes and they receive no help or compensation. Their land has been devalued as a result and they now have to be transferred to Bord Gais.
“I implore Laois County Council not to tranfer the ownership to Bord Gais and to warn the landowners of what is happening.”
While Cllr Alan Hand warned that some of the information would be lost in the transfer.
“We have a lot of local expertise here, some of the information will be lost in translation but there is no subsititue for local information.
“If we have a problem with sewerage now, we call the council and it is dealt with. Will we get the same service in the future,” he questioned.
While Fianna Fail councillor, Jery Lodge said government’s never learn their lessons.
“Centralisation doens’t work. We’ve seen that from SUSI or the medical cards. The council staff are first class and efficient. Will we get the same service in 2017? Will we be charged for it,” he asked.
County Manager, Peter Carey, said the deal had been done on the water services and the legislation was being prepared.
He also paid tribute to the council’s staff.
“We have over 800 kilomnetres of pipework in the county and they have looked after around 40 schemes over the years. They have been excellent.”
He said that Ballacolla and other private schemes would remain on their own and not be taken over by Bord Gais.
Mr Carey said the new call centre would take the calls, but they would come back down to Laois County Council staff to deal with.
“I’m sure they will continue to deal with calls as efficiently and we can only hope that Irish Water will see this is the best way to do it.”