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Time to engage in a realistic water debate

Hopefully, now that the peak of the water emergency has passed (temporarily at least), perhaps our elected representatives can settle down and engage in a realistic discussion on the state of Northern Ireland Water (NIW)?

On the one hand it is said much of the water infrastructure is too old and worn for its purpose, but on the other hand we are told emphatically the costs of running and updating the system are already included in our domestic rates charges and separate water charges will not be introduced.

In the last few weeks we have heard enough denials and petty point scoring from politicians. And while an inquiry into the workings of NIW has been announced, now Mr Murphy has agreed he too should be investigated. But why should there be two investigations? Is this another example of how our politicians are willing to squander taxpayers' money to protect themselves?

So the public can draw their own conclusions rationally, is it too much to ask that some facts and figures be released?

How much of each household rates bill refers to water provision? What is the sum total from Northern Ireland households collected in this way?

Is this grand total adequate to renew the water infrastructure within a realistic time scale? If this amount is inadequate where will the shortfall be found?

From a finite block grant, funding a water shortfall inevitably means something else will have to be reduced - from what will the shortfall be taken?

Why is it preferable to deprive that source than to pay for water?

Minister Murphy says NIW should be run by the Executive - but does their record to date inspire confidence? Examples of their management (or should I say mismanagement?) skills that come to mind are the Maze site, not to mention claims to streamline local government and education.



C Hasson

Belfast

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