I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 92, 105, 159, 538, 539, 543 and 544 together.
Details of water services schemes approved by my Department are set out in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2005-2007 which is available in the Oireachtas Library. Earlier this year my Department asked all local authorities to provide updated assessments of their needs for additional water services infrastructure and to review their priorities in light of economic, demographic and other developments that had taken place since the last such assessments were produced in 2003. The latest assessments will inform the selection of new schemes for inclusion in the next phase of the Water Services Investment Programme. Information in relation to proposals included in the assessments for any particular area may appropriately be sought from the relevant local authority.
Funding of €3.7 billion is being invested in new and upgraded water and wastewater infrastructure under the current National Development Plan. A total of 337 schemes were completed under the Water Services Investment Programme in the period from January 2000 to mid 2006. These schemes have, inter alia, generated additional wastewater treatment capacity equivalent to the needs of a population of 3.1 million, seven times greater than the entire increase over the period of the previous National Development Plan, together with sufficient additional drinking water treatment capacity for a population of 660,000. The Exchequer capital provision for water services infrastructure next year is up 7% on the 2006 provision and the new National Development Plan will continue the current focus on providing water services infrastructure to support strong economic and social development, while at the same time preserving the highest environmental standards.
The position with regard to the funding of individual schemes is that the capital cost of services to cater for the domestic sector is met by the Exchequer through the Water Services Investment Programme. Under Water Services Pricing Policy, and in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive, the marginal capital cost of services for the non-domestic sector is recovered by local authorities from non-domestic consumers on a consolidated countywide basis over a period of up to twenty years. The proportion of overall costs represented by the non-domestic contribution varies from scheme to scheme, depending on general design parameters, the overall capacity of a scheme and the breakdown of domestic and non-domestic demand. Typically the level of capital support by my Department for new water service infrastructure is in the range 85% to 90%, and not 30% to 35% as implied in the Question.
I have introduced a number of measures to streamline the approval procedures and reduce administration at Departmental and local authority level in order to move projects to construction as soon as possible. I have reduced the number of stage approvals local authorities are required to obtain from my Department and also simplified Water Services Pricing Policy procedures and affordability criteria. Overall I am satisfied that the current levels of funding, together with the resources and administrative supports available to my Department and the local authorities, will ensure that projects under the Water Services Investment Programme will move ahead urgently.