My Department builds its strategic water policy and infrastructure delivery programmes around the National Planning Framework (NPF) 2018-2040 with necessary funding identified within the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027.
The NPF supports proportionate growth of rural towns and a programme for ‘new homes in small towns and villages’, with local authorities and public infrastructure agencies providing serviced sites, with appropriate infrastructure, to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages.
Ensuring funding for the provisions of water services under the NDP plays a key and enabling role in realising both the National Planning Objectives of the NPF and National Strategic Outcomes of the NDP. The ultimate delivery is primarily through Irish Water and the Rural Water Programme, which is funded directly by my Department. The Rural Water Programme is administered by local authorities.
The Programme for Government supports the take-up of Irish Water's Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme 2020-2024, which will provide water and wastewater growth capacity in smaller settlements that would otherwise not be provided for in Irish Water's capital investment plan.
The current focus of Irish Water in its Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme 2020-2024 is on locations with existing public water services infrastructure. Irish Water is subject to independent economic regulation by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). My Department understands from Irish Water that an allocation of €97.5m for this programme was approved by the CRU.
Complementary to the above, my Department is currently examining these considerations in the context of villages and settlements that do not have public wastewater infrastructure. I have instructed the relevant officials in my Department to prepare a report on this topic at national level and I will be in a position to provide further update once I have received this report.