Details of the measures being funded and the grants available under my Department's Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021 were notified to local authorities on 8 February 2019.
Two funding measures in the new multi-annual programme are relevant to the question raised by the Deputy. These measures are:
- Measure 4 – New Group Water Schemes: The aim of this funding measure is to facilitate the continued expansion of the coverage of piped water supplies to the rural population through the development of new standalone, or extensions to existing, group water schemes.
- Measure 6 - Community Water and Wastewater Connections: This measure facilitates the continued expansion of the coverage of piped water supplies and wastewater by extension off the public (Irish Water) network.
Community Water and Wastewater Connections were called new public group water schemes and group sewerage schemes under previous programmes.
The following levels of grant aid will apply for schemes and projects under these two measures:
- New Group Water Schemes and Community Water Connection Networks: Grants of up to 85% of cost are available subject to a maximum grant of €7,650 per house. This means that the effective cost limit per house is €9,000. ?
- Community Wastewater Connection Networks: Grants of up to 75% of cost are available subject to a maximum grant of €6,750 per house. This means that the effective cost limit per house is €9,000.
A supplemental grant in excess of these limits can be considered but only in exceptional circumstances where full justification is provided.
Where a supplemental grant is warranted, and approved, the combined basic and supplemental grant will be limited to 90% of the cost per house and subject to minimum household contributions as follows:
- New Group Water Schemes and Community Water Connection Networks: €1,350. ?
- Community Wastewater Connection Networks: €2,250.
Local authorities were invited to submit their bids for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas, with the deadline for receipt of proposals set as 14 March 2019.
My Department is currently considering local authorities' bids for funding allocations. An Expert Panel has been put in place to support the evaluation process. In addition to providing an expert perspective, the Panel brings independence, openness and transparency to the bids evaluation process which is done on a national prioritised basis. The Expert Panel’s membership includes Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation. Consideration of the distribution of funding across each measure under the programme forms part of the evaluation process.
The Expert Panel will examine the bids, including on the need if relevant for supplemental grants, and make recommendations to my Department on the suitability of schemes and projects for funding based on objective criteria which are set out in the framework document issued to local authorities when proposals were requested. My Department will then consider the recommendations of the Panel, and based on these, will propose allocations for my consideration as Minister. I expect this process to be completed later in the second quarter of 2019.