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Wastewater Treatment

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 10 November 2021

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Questions (117, 118)

Holly Cairns

Question:

117. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he is taking in response to the EPA Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2020 report finding that treatment at 12 large towns and cities failed to comply with EU standards set to protect the environment. [55184/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

118. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he is taking in response to the EPA’s Urban Waste Water Treatment in 2020 report finding that treatment 34 towns and villages release untreated sewage into the environment every day due to the fact that they are not connected to treatment plants. [55185/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 118 together.

I welcome the report on Urban Waste Water from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing that, while many challenges remain, Irish Water is continuing to make progress and is improving our waste water systems. 

Irish Water has reduced the number of priority waste water sites listed by the EPA, and has increased the number of large towns and cities that now meet the required EU standards for waste water discharges. There has been a steady reduction in the number of areas failing to comply with the standards in recent years.

I note that the EPA appreciates that there is a long and complex programme of work ahead to deliver a waste water service that fully meets the required standards.

It will not be possible to fix all infrastructural deficits overnight and this work will require very significant and sustained capital investment. These are complex projects and must be carefully planned, designed and developed to fully meet our future needs. 

The Programme for Government commits to funding Irish Water's capital investment plan for drinking water and waste water infrastructure on a multi-annual basis and delivery of the funding package committed to in Project Ireland 2040. The National Development Plan 2021-2030 (published on 4 October 2021) commits to almost €6bn capital investment to be undertaken by Irish Water in the period from 2021-2025 of which over €4.5 billion will be Voted Exchequer funded in respect of domestic water services also referenced under Housing for All.  This substantial and sustained investment will build on improvements in recent years to deliver enhanced environment conditions in our rivers, estuaries, lakes and coastal waters.

As part of Budget 2022, I secured funding of over €1.57 billion to support water services. This includes €1.459 billion (Current €629m and Capital €830m) in respect of domestic water services provision by Irish Water. This funding is provided to Irish Water for its operational and capital costs relating to the provision of domestic water services having regard to the Third Revenue Control (RC3) period 2020-2024 set by Irish Water’s economic regulator the Commission for Regulation of Utilities.

The overall investment will deliver significant improvements in our public water and waste water services, support improved water supplies right across Ireland, including rural Ireland, and support a range of programmes delivering improved water quality in our rivers, lakes and marine area. It is key to addressing Ireland's shortcomings in water and waste water infrastructure including compliance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

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