Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (869, 870, 871, 872)

Arthur Morgan

Question:

988 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he can confirm that local authorities will not be allowed to take over any group water schemes where there is a DBO contract in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1881/04]

View answer

Arthur Morgan

Question:

992 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the percentage funding available to group water schemes to allow them to bring their treatment facilities up to standards required by the European Union drinking water directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1928/04]

View answer

Arthur Morgan

Question:

993 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the serious concerns which exist regarding DBO's and the fact that due to the severe problems with leakage group water schemes will find themselves in precarious financial situations because they will be paying a private company for treated water which is leaking into the ground; the steps he intends to take to address these concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1929/04]

View answer

Arthur Morgan

Question:

994 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the options which are available to group water schemes wishing to upgrade their water treatment facilities to comply with the EU directive on drinking water; if they are obliged to enter a design build operate contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1930/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 988 and 992 to 994, inclusive, together.

Privately sourced group water schemes that are not in compliance with the required standards for drinking water may, where available, connect to a local authority main or, alternatively, provide essential stand alone water treatment and disinfection facilities. Grants of up to 100% of cost are available for the provision of such facilities under design build operate contracts, coupled with bundling of individual schemes, in accordance with standard procurement procedures. Related civil works such as buildings, reservoirs and pipelines, and works associated with connecting to a local authority main, are grant aided at up to 85% of cost, subject to a maximum grant of €6,475 per house.

Bundled DBO procurement of treatment and disinfection facilities accords with the recommendations of the national rural water monitoring committee and is being implemented in partnership with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes. Facilities provided under these arrangements remain in the ownership of the group water scheme. The powers of a local authority to take in charge a group scheme are not affected by the existence of a DBO contract.

Reducing the level of unaccounted for water is a priority in the case of group schemes participating in DBO projects. Grants are available for a range of remedial actions and water conservation measures to reduce water losses, including the provision of bulk meters and telemetry and the upgrading and renewal of inadequate water storage and distribution systems. My Department, in conjunction with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes and the Water Services National Training Group, also provides a range of training courses for group scheme managers, caretakers and operatives in the areas of leak detection, network management and maintenance, and water conservation.