The Irish water industry is the biggest source of jobs in the country, accounting for over 14% of all jobs in 2013, according to the Irish Water Industry Council (IWIC).
However, in recent years, the cost of water treatment and treatment equipment has gone up, making it a more expensive proposition for many businesses to keep running in Ireland.
“If you are a small business in Dublin and you have a water line, you are more than twice as likely to be on the hook for the water rate in Dublin as the rest of Ireland,” said Diane Breen, head of business and professional development at the Irish Business Council.
“You are paying twice as much for your water supply.”
“It’s not an easy job.
You have to get to the point where you have to pay your bill, and that’s a big investment in infrastructure.
It takes a lot of time and money to make it work, so it’s hard to justify investing in a small company in the first place.”
While the cost to run a business has gone through the roof in recent decades, the IWIC said the real cost has not gone up nearly as much.
“[It’s] a bit like a big mortgage on a house, because you have the money to buy a house,” Breen said.
“If you don’t pay it back you get an interest rate on the mortgage, which is a huge burden.”
Daniels water treatment plant source The Irish Water industry is currently facing a series of challenges.
As part of the Irish Government’s Water and Environment Strategy, it announced a €2bn investment in water treatment infrastructure in 2015.
However, the Government has so far failed to achieve any of the targets it set out in the Strategy, and it’s expected to miss its target of generating €50bn of savings by 2020.
The Irish Water Management Agency said it has a budget of €60bn, which it has not yet revealed, and the IWMG said the IMRA is in discussions with the Government over the best way to fund water infrastructure.
In recent years there has been a spike in demand for water in Ireland, particularly from Dublin.
A recent report by the Irish Society of Civil Engineers (ISCE) found that Dublin was in the top 20 most-affected areas by demand for drinking water, and the water crisis has created serious shortages in parts of the city.
IWICA’s Breen believes the Irish public needs more investment in their water supply.
“The public needs to be given confidence that their water is safe, clean and reliable,” she said.
“If there is no investment in it, we will lose out on the benefits of being in Ireland.”
In addition to the cost and difficulty of running a business, the Irish Environment Protection Agency (IEPA) has also recently warned that water infrastructure will need major improvements in the next decade.
There are currently about 3,600 water treatment plants in Ireland that are either in service or in operation.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption A small business can be the costliest in the world to run in Ireland Source: The Irish Sun