Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. I welcome the Minister of State.
I would like to raise the issue of the proposed Milltown group sewerage scheme. Milltown is located north west of Monaghan town and is typical of the outskirts of Monaghan, where ribbon development and unseweraged housing clusters have developed on the periphery of the town. Residents in Milltown recently formed a group sewerage scheme. They employed a consultant engineer and concluded that the most viable and economic option for the group sewerage scheme was to connect to the main sewer by connecting to a nearby existing housing development called Telaydan Heights. Milltown group sewerage scheme consists of approximately 30 domestic members and 32 commercial members. Funding was approved by the Department under the rural water programme for the scheme 2014 to 2015. There were some outstanding legal matters that needed to be addressed and as a result the scheme did not proceed. However, agreement has since been obtained by the group to connect to a local sewer pump in Telaydan Heights.
The Blackwater, which is the largest river in County Monaghan, and one of the most substantial catchments of Ulster, is close by. The houses in the Milltown area of Monaghan are serviced by domestic on-site wastewater treatment systems. The risk of environmental pollution to the Blackwater from these septic tanks is very high due to the age, construction, subsoil conditions, vulnerability and close proximity to the Blackwater River and its catchment streams. Monaghan town and its environs are constructed directly over a regionally important limestone mass which means, in layman's terms, that the Monaghan public water supply comes from that area. It is alarming that the septic tanks, which cause pollution, could be interfering with the water supply there. The Milltown group sewerage scheme's primary aim is to extend the wastewater collection infrastructure to serve the ribbon developments and unseweraged housing clusters within the area. It is a matter of connecting 32 septic tanks, which are problematic, into the main sewer.
Milltown group sewerage scheme proceeded to tender in 2016 with an estimated cost for the full scheme of €358,000. The Department, assisted by an expert panel, reviewed and prioritised group schemes throughout the country under the multi-annual programme for 2016 to 2018. Milltown was a scheme prioritised for funding along with six others throughout the country. It is estimated that 90% funding would be required for this scheme to proceed, as the minimum contribution per household would be €2,250.
There is another scheme where the funding is 75% but that would leave the cost to the householder too expensive and would thus make the whole scheme unviable. That scheme, therefore, requires 90% funding in order that it can proceed to construction stage.
Monaghan County Council's environmental section has done great work on this scheme and fully supports it. It is vitally important that the funding will be allocated, hopefully this year, to this scheme so that the 30 septic tanks can be connected to the main sewer and pollution can cease.
I ask the Minister of State to provide a date for the commencement of this funding. When will the 90% funding be allocated in order to make that happen?