I welcome the Minister of State. Loughrea is a burgeoning and vibrant town and I am sure the Minister of State may have travelled through it on her way to Galway. It needs to have its water supply upgraded urgently. Not alone is Loughrea, a burgeoning and growing town, supplied by that water supply but it also supplies a number of communities in its hinterland. One such community is Kilrickle, which is situated on the old N6. It is hard to believe that in 2010 this village has no clean reliable public water supply. In 2004, Deputy Michael Kitt, a former Member of this House, asked when phase 2 of the Loughrea scheme would be developed, which in turn would supply Kilrickle. He was told in reply that it was intended to commence construction in 2006 at a cost of more than €35 million. This did not happen. The Government then produced a water services investment programme in 2007 in which it was indicated that the scheme would go to construction in 2009 but that did not happen either. In compiling the water services investment programme the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government relies on the expertise and local knowledge of local authorities, rightly so. Galway County Council prepared such an assessment of needs before the publication of the most recent water services investment programme. Of the 11 schemes which the council believed should receive priority in County Galway, it listed the scheme in Loughrea at No. 5. It also indicated that it would be in a position to begin delivering on the scheme in 2010 and that all of the information sought by the Department had been supplied by it. It would be ready to go to tender on the project within a matter of weeks. In identifying the scheme in Loughrea as a priority it pointed out that water for the domestic and commercial use of the population of Kilreekil would have to be transported by tanker during the dry season, having been unsuccessful in finding a suitable source of drinking water in the area.
A briefing note prepared by Galway County Council management for Oireachtas Members in east Galway concluded that it had been an expectation of the residents of Kilreekil to receive a safe and secure supply of potable water, a basic requirement, for almost ten years. The Loughrea regional water supply scheme has been designed and the required documents have been prepared to include this expectation. While it is accepted that emerging priorities must be given precedence in the current climate, the meeting of such a basic requirement, coupled with the advancement of the contract, should be ample reason to include the contract in the current water services investment programme. However, it has not been included. Despite having been included in the programme for the past seven years, it has now been taken out.
I refer to a letter to former Deputy Joe Callanan from the then Minister, Deputy Dick Roche, in October 2006 in which he stated:
I know this is a very important scheme locally, especially for the people of Kilreekil, and my Department will be asking Galway County Council to ensure that it is progressed on towards construction stage as quickly as possible. I know you will be glad to learn there has been concrete progress. My Department and I will do everything we can to solve the very pressing water supply problems in the area.
In August 2006 the then Minister also wrote to Joe Callanan to say: "This job is scheduled to commence in 2007 under my Department's water service investment programme". In fact, just before the general election in 2007, the then Minister actually visited the village of Kilreekil when he spoke to homeowners and business owners and once again assured them that they would have a water supply very soon. They still have no supply and now have no hope whatsoever of receiving one because the Government has chosen, for some very strange reason unknown to me and Galway County Council management, to remove the project completely from the water services investment programme.