Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 7 Dec 1995

Vol. 459 No. 5

Adjournment Debate. - Virginia (Cavan) Sewerage Scheme.

I thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity of raising this matter on the Adjournment and thank the Minister of State Deputy Liz McManus, for her attendance.

The Virginia sewerage scheme was included in the river Boyne catchment protection scheme application for funding submitted to the European Commission in December 1994 under the Cohesion Fund. The Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, in reply to my parliamentary question on this subject on 27 April 1995 stated that he expected a reply from the Commission on that Cohesion Fund application by late May or early June 1995. In exchanges during that Question Time the Minister accepted that the present sewerage system in Virginia is totally inadequate.

I repeat that there is an urgent need to provide a new sewerage scheme in Virginia. The present scheme which is totally inadequate was provided in 1935 and planned to cater for a population of about 300. The same scheme now serves a catchment area with a population of 1,500. When installed in the 1930s there were 110 connections to this scheme. I understand there are now upwards of 300 connections, including one to a vocational school with 400 students, hotels and industries. Further developments are proposed for Virginia, including additional tourist accommodation, a large number of private houses and a nursing unit with a 30-bed complement. Virginia is a growing town, and this will continue owing to its easy access to Dublin and the expected regeneration of the Border economy.

I appealed previously to the Minister to try to have construction work on this scheme commenced before the end of 1995. That target cannot now be achieved. In view of the total inadequacy of the present scheme and the fact that the present system poses a serious danger to the quality of the renowned waterway of Lough Ramor, I appeal to the Minister of State, Deputy McManus to try to have work commenced on this scheme at the earliest possible date. Proper sanitary services are urgently needed in Virginia. I hope the Minister of State will be able to inform me that this scheme will progress rapidly and that a positive and successful outcome to the application will be forthcoming without further delay.

Finally, I appeal to the Minister to do everything in her power to ensure that construction of this much needed scheme commences during 1996.

I thank Deputy Smith for raising this matter.

I am aware of the need to extend and improve the existing sewerage system in Virginia, which discharges to Lough Ramor and ultimately to the wider river Boyne Catchment.

Considerable progress has been made in recent years with the provision of water and sewerage infrastructure in County Cavan. A water supply scheme has been completed at Belturbet at a cost of just over £2 million and a sewerage scheme at Bailieboro for over £1 million. Two major water supply schemes are at present under construction — the Ballyjamesduff regional water supply scheme, costing an estimated £6,652,000, and the Bailieboro regional water supply scheme, at a cost of some £6,302,000.

As regards new schemes, the planning of the Ballyjamesduff sewerage scheme is being progressed. This has been included in an application to the EU Commission for finance under the Cohesion Fund in respect of the Lough Ree catchment protection scheme and I am confident of being able to advance it shortly. The Ballyconnell sewerage scheme, estimated to cost just over £1 million, has already been approved for funding under the EU initiative INTERREG 2. Under this programme also, another eight small schemes, including water and sewerage, have been approved for funding and these are estimated to cost £660,000. I hope the Deputy will agree that all of this represents a very considerable investment in water infrastructure in County Cavan.

The existing Virginia sewage treatment plant, situated on the northern shore of Lough Ramor, is acknowledged to be inadequate for today's needs. It was installed in the late 1930s to cater for a population of between two and three hundred. The present population is over fifteen hundred and the plant is now unable to cope.

It is proposed to provide secondary treatment, which will relieve the problem of overloading of the existing sewers and eliminate flooding. The new scheme is being designed to cater for an estimated population of 2,000 persons and would include the construction of a new sewage treatment facility, pumping station, rising main, sewer, storm overflow and outfall pipe. Phosphate removal would also be provided to prevent enrichment of Lough Ramor and to improve and protect the water quality of the lough.

The scheme is estimated to cost about £1.7 million and funding has been sought from the European Union. Planning is well advanced and in July last the Department sought revised contract documents for the scheme from the local authority. We are at present awaiting the submission of these detailed contract documents. The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot give formal approval to a proposal which has not yet been fully finalised at local level. I have, however, indicated my general acceptance of the urgency of this scheme and I hope it will be possible to progress it before long.