The chief executive of Northern Ireland Water is leaving her post at the end of the month, it was announced today.
Katharine Bryan is going just weeks after the Utilities Regulator and the Stormont Assembly’s Regional Development Committee launched separate investigations into how the company made a multi-million pound mistake in forecasting its revenues.
It is a miscalculation which could mean water bills could be up to £30 (€37.70) more a year, when introduced next year, than projected by politicians.
It is understood Ms Bryan has been considering her position in the post – which earned her £180,000 (€226,000) in salary and bonuses last year – since the blunder became public.
If the regulator uncovers any wrongdoing NI Water could be hit with a heavy fine.
Ms Bryan was among executives from the company – which provides all Northern Ireland water and handles all of its sewage – recently quizzed by MLA’s on the Regional Development Committee.
She told them NI Water was doing all it could to minimise the financial impact on householders caused by their mistake.
The board of NI Water today began the search for a new CEO, but because of the swift departure, chairman Chris Mellor will assume the chief executive’s role until a replacement is found.
During her four years in charge of NI Water Ms Bryan steered it through a change from a part of the Northern Ireland Civil Service to being a wholly-owned government company.
Mr Mellor said: “The last four years have been tough and we thank Katharine Bryan for professionally leading the company through them. Today we start looking for a new CEO to take us forward.”
He said the future was all about the customer and their expectation of what they should demand from a water company.
He added: “We aim to set the bar high while at the same time meeting our regulatory requirements and working with our shareholder, the Department of Regional Development, and other stakeholders to ensure Northern Ireland’s domestic and corporate users of water have the service they deserve as this economy continues to grow.
Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy expressed his thanks to Ms Bryan for her contribution to the water and sewage service.
he added: “The company must now prepare for the challenges ahead to meet the needs of consumers and the various stakeholders.
“It is important going forward that, with renewed vigour and fresh leadership, strong relationships are forged with the regulators and representatives of the consumer to ensure that NI Water delivers quality services as cost effectively as possible.”
Mr Murphy said he was grateful Mr Mellor had agreed to serve as acting chief until a new person was found.