Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Questions (410, 411, 412)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

447 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the funding made available by his Department for sewerage schemes categories under the heading of small schemes; if his attention has been drawn to the need for a substantial increase in such funding with particular reference to minimising pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22819/06]

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

I have allocated €19.825m to county councils for 2006 in respect of the Small Public Water and Sewerage Schemes measure of the Rural Water Programme. Responsibility for the operation of the measure, including the prioritisation, selection and implementation of individual schemes, has been devolved to county councils since 1997. Based on a recommendation by the National Rural Water Monitoring Committee, investment under the Rural Water Programme in recent years has concentrated on improving drinking water quality in rural water supplies and in privately sourced group water schemes, in particular. Completion of the rural water upgrading proposals set out in the Committee's Action Plan will facilitate a review of the funding arrangements for other measures in the Rural Water Programme, including a greater emphasis on small public water and sewerage schemes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

448 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the inadequacy of the funding available for group sewerage schemes throughout the Country; his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22820/06]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

449 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposals to increase the funding available to the various local authorities for group sewerage schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22821/06]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 448 and 449 together.

In June 2005 I approved funding for the provision of new waste water facilities at seven locations in County Tipperary as a pilot programme to test a range of new, small-scale waste water collection and treatment systems under Irish conditions. The pilot programme, proposed by the National Rural Water Monitoring Committee, will also test a low cost, low maintenance system to collect, treat and dispose of effluent from existing septic tanks. The objective of the pilot scheme is to evaluate new approaches to meeting the waste water collection and treatment needs of rural villages and to examine the potential role for group sewerage schemes in extending the collection systems to households outside the catchment of new or existing sewerage schemes. Implementation of the pilot programme is currently underway. Three of the schemes are expected to be completed by September and the remainder by the end of the year. Performance monitoring of each scheme will commence immediately after commissioning and I will be asking the National Rural Water Monitoring to report on results as they become available. Overall assessment of the pilot programme will inform any review of the current group sewerage scheme grants.