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Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 January 2019

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Questions (678)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

678. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of upgrade funding for a group water scheme (details supplied) in County Kildare. [2537/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Group water schemes are independent community-owned enterprises and are an important means of providing piped water to rural areas where no such supply exists.

While, as Minister, I am responsible for overall policy direction and prioritisation in the area of rural water services and for funding for the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme, local authorities lead on local implementation of the funding measures.

The group water scheme in question is located in South Kildare. The scheme was included by Kildare County Council in their 2017 bids under Measure 1 of the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2016-2018. This measure provides for improvements to group water schemes in order to achieve compliance with the quality parameters of the Drinking Water Regulations. In 2017 my Department's funding allocations under the programme included an allocation of €89,490 for works to the scheme. While no specific allocation was made in 2018 the scheme was eligible to receive funding from a retained reserve to support projects not included in the allocations. In doing this my Department undertook to work with the Council with a view to there being a plan in place to ensure the satisfactory progression of works.

I understand that in 2018 Kildare County Council completed an options report on the scheme. This report was compiled by the Council to provide clarity on the best way forward for investment in the scheme. A whole life cost (capital and operation) was used to make this assessment.

I understand the report showed that the best solution, from an economic and compliance point of view is for the scheme to interconnect to, and be taken in charge by, Irish Water. The Irish Water supply would ensure that householders in the supply area for the scheme receive drinking water that is in compliance with the Drinking Water Regulations on a consistent long-term basis. The least favourable option identified was to continue as a private group water scheme. Under this option, the associated costs are considerably higher than for the other options and even with significant capital investment the scheme would still be considered vulnerable to non-compliance with the Drinking Water Regulations. The water supplied by the scheme has a record of containing high levels of nitrates.

In October 2018 the Council wrote to the management of the scheme outlining the funding position and enclosing a copy of the options report. The letter advised that funding was available to upgrade the scheme to the standard required by Irish Water in order to take the scheme in charge. I am advised that officials from Kildare County Council met with the scheme on 10 January 2019.

Funding is not an impediment to a solution that is sustainable and cost effective in the long-term. Funding was available under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2016-2018 for an agreed sustainable and economic long-term solution. Funding for such an approach remains available under the 2019-2021 cycle of the funding programme.

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