Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Questions (134, 135)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

134. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if schools have contacted his Department in respect of the availability of drinking water in schools; if applications have been made for financial support to address issues in which a school does not have a tap drinking water supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11568/19]

View answer

Denise Mitchell

Question:

135. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an audit of all learning centres will be undertaken on the availability of potable drinking water; the estimated cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11569/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 135 together.

In existing buildings, if a school has concerns about the quality of its drinking water the competent authorities to address this are the relevant local authority and Irish Water. It is matter for schools to take their concerns up with those authorities. Following this contact, if any quality issues are identified as a result of a test, my Department will provide funding to address them. If a school does not have a tap drinking water supply, the Department will provide funding to address this also.

There is no impediment to a school applying to my Department for funding to remedy either of the situations outlined. Schools and their management bodies will be aware that this is the case from their customary interactions with my Department with regard to all aspects of their buildings.

The availability of tap drinking water supplies is covered by my Department's Emergency Works Grant Scheme under the "mechanical" category. Mechanical components of a building incorporate, among other things, all water systems, including tap drinking water supply. It is also open to schools to apply for remediation works under my Department's Summer Works Scheme which, likewise, has a "mechanical" category. Primary schools receive a minor works grant too which they can use for this purpose if they so wish. In addition, tap drinking water systems are automatically included in new school buildings and extension projects. My Department has dedicated guidelines for Design Teams setting out the standards to be implemented for these construction projects and for all remediation projects.

Given the range of components under the mechanical category in my Department’s Grant Schemes, records of the detail of the individual grants approved are not held. As it is open to schools to apply for funding to address drinking water issues in their schools, I have no plans for an audit to be carried out.