Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Questions (392)

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

491 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department’s building unit, based in Tullamore, will prepare advice and technical assistance for the 3,300 primary schools with respect to the installation of water meters on their premises as a conservation measure in line with the recent Government decision regarding water charges and local authorities; if officials will be available if requested by boards of management to undertake a conservation audit of their building with a view to reducing unnecessary water usage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4846/08]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

The Deputy will appreciate that the installation of water meters in schools is a matter for my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in conjunction with individual local authorities. I am anxious to enable schools to conserve water and keep their bills as low as possible. An information package is currently being prepared for schools on the most appropriate measures to minimise excess consumption of water and to reduce wastage where it exists.

As part of this exercise, technical guidance and specifications for the most common problems that are likely to arise in this area will be provided. Water conservation issues will continue to be addressed by my Department as a matter of routine where new schools are being built or where major renovations are being carried out to existing schools under the schools modernisation programme. Measures such as the use of low-pressure spray taps on wash hand basins, dual flushing units on toilets and push button type shower controls are generally used.

In November 2007 the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley TD, through Dublin City Council, launched a "Conserve Water in Schools' campaign which involved giving all schools in Dublin City a present of a water butt to collect rain water for use in school gardens and free "hippo bags" to put in toilet cisterns that will automatically reduce the amount of water used with each flush. A "Conserve Water in Schools Resource Pack" was launched which shows children how they can get involved in conserving water and put a stop to water wastage in their schools. The school pack shows children how to audit the amount of water used in their school and how to devise a plan of action to reduce water usage and to stop wastage. Action sheets in the pack encourage pupils to keep up their good water conservation habits and show them how to monitor and evaluate their own school's Plan of Action on an ongoing basis. All schools everywhere can get involved by downloading the schools' pack from the council's website, www.dublincity.ie.