What’s involved? Where would I start and, most importantly, how many hundred thousand euro would I be paid?
It could be a tough job getting the project to flow smoothly. A lot of water could flow under the bridge before the project would break even or make money. It’s important before anyone takes on a responsible job that you know the pitfalls so as you don’t get a kick in the arse after two years and be forced out with a couple of million euro golden handshake.
That’s why I’m always count to 10 or even 20 before I take on responsibilities.
So let’s look at the figures. It will cost somewhere in the region of €1.5 billion to roll out the system of metering and that works out at about €1,500 for every household in Ireland. Then you have the cost of the electricity to run these meters and the cost of 1,000 extra staff in various government departments to send out the bills and maintain the meters.
Then there’s the meter finder who will spend hours or maybe weeks trying to find out where the meters are, which could be an impossible task as some other government agency may dig up the meters to fit some of the thousands of daft road signs that are planned for rural Ireland.
Nearly forgot the cost of digging up these meters that are buried two feet under footpaths to torch them because they got frozen over in the Irish winter. Then we have the defaulters who won’t pay their bills because they are only getting frozen water.
So how much is a fair price to charge? I don’t know and nobody else knows yet they still want me to take the job, make a decision and make a right bollocks of myself because they could blame me when things go wrong.
I am being assured there is feck all to go wrong given all the lead pipes that the Brits fitted here during the occupation are all replaced. Problem is they don’t know where these pipes are.
As one contractor working on a major project in a west of Ireland town told me recently, ‘The only way you know whether these pipes house water or electric cables is to hit them a belt of a sledge hammer and run’. If that’s what these fellas in the Department of the Environment are planning for me they better buy another sledge hammer to hammer some cop on into themselves.
Water, water pipes and any commodity that is buried in the ground in these parts causes major problems. The ability to find where they are buried has been a very painstaking and contentious issue. Roads are dug up and closed again and opened again with little success.
It will take about two years, maybe four, to roll out the meters. By then we all may have drilled our own wells to ensure supplies and continuity. So the whole water meter saga may end up another bad dream that will cost us all a small fortune.
My next step on the road to liquidity for our water metering service is money and how this operation will survive financially. It won’t, but then state agencies are not meant to make money, so how will they pay me?
It is estimated that 30 per cent of the water that is supposed to run through the pipes at present runs into drains, gullies and fields because of leakage. At present it is estimated that it takes an average of three weeks to fix a faulty pipe or leakage.
It is known that a certain businessperson in this area received a bill for water of €5,400 for use in two toilets and one washbasin. When leakages were checked out the real figure was reduced to €330.
That’s just one particular case and they expect me to take on this job at a couple of million bonus and performance. How could I perform miracles?
My next project is how much I would need to charge all you households for water to wash your little toes and snouts. That is when I got out the dartboard and three darts and aimed for the top double top, €400, or treble top, €600.
I was told by the officials that this was an unfair way of doing business. I suggested that I felt this was the process used by the people who put valuations on commercial property and by the people who ask us to pay unrealistic rates.
After months of soul searching as to how I could run this operation successfully and not get ran out of the job within the first 100 days, I decided to phone a friend. I suggested there were people around with harder necks than me who had presided over disasters like this in the past and they would be better suited.
My opportunity of picking up a handy number at this stage in my life is now a distant dream. So for these reasons I told them to stick their job up their ‘you know what’. They’re not going to cod me again with soft money and empty promises.