In July this year my Department launched the multi-annual Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure Resolution Programme. Bids were sought from local authorities around the country for funding under the Programme. The development of such a multi-annual funding programme was a key recommendation of the report on the National Taking-in-Charge Initiative that was published by my Department in December 2018.
The programme will enable the progressive resolution, on a priority basis, of substandard Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure - commonly called DPI much of which was installed in housing estates during the building boom of the late 1990's and early 2000's. These privately owned and temporary facilities provide mostly wastewater treatment with a small number providing drinking water.
In a survey conducted by my Department in late 2015, it was estimated that just over 900 housing estates around the country depended on Developer Provided Infrastructure for their water services. However, in a workshop recently organised by my Department to inform local authorities of the new Resolution Programme it is now estimated that around 513 housing estates depend on such infrastructure.
In April 2016, my Department launched the National Taking in Charge Initiative. This was in recognition of the financial commitment that residents made in buying their homes, and the importance of ensuring that roads, open spaces, car parks, and service connections are completed and maintained to a satisfactory standard.
The purpose of the Initiative was to trial or demonstrate new approaches and working methods in supporting and accelerating overall national and local action on the process for taking-in-charge of housing estates - including those with Developer Provided Infrastructure.
The collaborative experience gained by the key stakeholders in implementing the Taking-in-Charge Initiative has now informed the new Resolution Programme. The objective of the Programme is to resolve this sub-standard component of our water services infrastructure in a sustainable manner, and ultimately to support residential estates being taking in charge. The National Development Plan published in February 2018, includes provision of €31 million for the period 2018-2021 to support the Programme.
The closing date for bids under the programme was 18 September 2019. A total number of 19 local authorities with Developer Provided Infrastructure in estates in their areas made applications under the programme for support.
My Department is currently completing a preliminary evaluation and clarification process on the bids received with the local authorities. The intention is to shortly set up an Expert Panel to independently evaluate the bids and recommend suitable projects for funding. This evaluation will take place over the coming months. Membership of the Panel will include Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation in the Chair.
The Expert Panel will make recommendations to me on the suitability of projects for funding under the programme based on the criteria set out in the Framework document issued to local authorities when requesting proposals.
The Panel will report to my Department when their examination of the bids is concluded. I expect to be in a position to make an announcement in early 2020 on approvals and allocations once that process is concluded and has been considered.