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Irish Water honoured at lavish US awards ceremony

23 July 2015 Latest News National News News

The controversial utility, Irish Water has something of a reputation problem at home – but things are a little different in the US, apparently.

The fact that Irish Water picked up an award at a lavish corporate ‘do’ in California made the front-page of the Irish Sun this morning.

And while it’s fair to say that that a bit of industry back-slapping involving any other Irish semi-state wouldn’t merit quite so much attention – it’s still little odd to hear the troubled utility spoken about in such glowing terms on the international stage.

What’s the award for? 

The ‘Enterprise Award’ was presented by Jack Dangermond, founder of a company called Environmental Systems Research Institute, which is a major international supplier of mapping software.

In a ceremony at the San Diego Convention Center, it was presented to Irish Water programme manager Paul Ahern for his swift implementation of a GIS [geographic information system] – a system designed to capture, store and manage various types of geographic data.

Introducing his guest, Dangermond talks up Irish Water for “shining a light on best practices” in the industry.

“I’m giving this award because Paul is a person who in one year implemented a complete GIS for their entire organisation for the entire country starting from scratch.”

Ahern says the company has been on a ”tremendous journey with Esri” and that he’s accepting the gong on behalf of “everybody involved in setting up Irish Water”.

When we were asked by the government to establish Irish Water we had three challenges: we had very little time, we had no data, and we had very high customer expectations.

Ending their on-stage interaction, Dangermond notes that former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley – an Irish-American, not to mention a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 White House race – is in the audience, and suggests (light-heartedly) that he and Ahern should have a chat.

This is what Esri had to say about the award for Irish Water, in the promotional bumf on its website:

More than 2,000 users currently access the national geodatabase across departments in asset management, operations, workflows, capital investments, strategic planning, and customer services.This means Irish Water will be better able to deliver water services, including increasing access to potable water.The purpose of Irish Water is to safeguard water as a precious natural resource and to deliver water services in a way that protects the environment and meets the needs of all citizens and industry now and in the future.


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