Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1594)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

1594. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when changes to grant schemes for private wells and septic tanks under the multi-annual rural water programme will come into effect; when local authorities will be provided with revised guidelines and application forms in view of the fact that it was planned that changes would come into effect at the end of April 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20052/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included improved funding schemes for individual wells (more commonly known as private or household wells) and on-site wastewater treatment systems (more commonly known as septic tanks).

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services. The Working Group, which is chaired by my Department, includes nominees from the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health Service Executive, Department of Rural and Community Development and local authorities, through the County and City Management Association (CCMA).

A guiding principle in developing the new funding schemes is to streamline the application, approval and payment processes as far as possible to maximise uptake and contribute towards drinking water quality and water quality protection and improvement, in line with objectives set out in the Drinking Water Directive and Water Framework Directive. In developing the necessary regulatory and administrative changes to underpin the revised grants schemes, my Department has over recent months consulted and met with key stakeholders, including the CCMA, the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office and the EPA.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the funding schemes. I expect that the process will be completed in the coming weeks when the necessary Statutory Instruments containing regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable circular letters, terms and conditions, guidance and application forms to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.