Thousands of water meters will be installed in homes across Co Longford from next January, it has emerged.
Local authority officials are to play no part, however, in either how water meters are installed or in the overall billing process.
Details of what homeowners can expect from newly set up State utility company Irish Water were made known at a special presentation before local politicians at last week’s county council meeting.
But it was the initiation of a centralised call service and concerns about the universal transfer of all present day liabilities which dominated much of last Wednesday evening’s debate.
“From looking at this (presentation), I think we (council) are in for a serious few years hassle,” said a visibly animated Cllr Martin Mulleady.
“I can’t understand why they (government) couldn’t leave it to local authorities to put in the meters. And if we get a serious winter like the one we got three years ago, you mean to say we all have to start ringing 1890? It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
The Drumlish-based businessman was not alone in raising doubts over the new set up. Cllr Mae Sexton said the soon-to-be-enforced changes were another dilution in local authority powers, a view which was shared by Cllr Paul Connell.
Likening the measures to a piece of schoolwork handed in by a child on their first week at school, Cllr Connell stormed: “I can forsee this being a disaster from the very start.”
“They (Irish Water) are taking our assets but they are not taking our responsibilities. The two must go hand in hand.”
Not all of the 21 or so elected representatives looking on were against Irish Water’s impending introduction.
Cllr Sean Farrell said the move would bring about not only improvements but a broader shift in public opinion.
“What this (setting up of Irish Water) will do is bring about a sea change in people’s attitudes,” he said.”
Cllr Denis Glennon agreed, but predicted the new system would pose problems and result in floods of calls to the likes of RTÉ’s ‘Liveline’ and other phone-in chat shows.