Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Ceisteanna (85)

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

85. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if additional funding will be made available to provide sewerage mains in unsewered villages in County Clare. [36518/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of public water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels.

As part of Budget 2021 the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage secured funding of over €1.4 billion to support water services. This includes €1.3 billion in respect of domestic water services provision by Irish Water. This overall investment will deliver significant improvements in our public water and wastewater 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.

The Programme for Government commits to supporting the take-up of Irish Water’s Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme which is intended to provide water and wastewater growth capacity in smaller settlements which would not otherwise be provided for in its Capital Investment Plan.

It should be noted that Irish Water is subject to independent economic regulation by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities – the CRU – which determines the revenue required by Irish Water to meet its efficient operating and capital costs to ensure that Irish Water operates in an efficient manner in delivering its services to customers.

Therefore, Irish Water brought forward proposals for a Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme, as part of its Capital Investment Plan 2020-2024 to the CRU for consideration. The Programme is intended to support of a number of the National Policy Objectives and National Strategic Outcomes under the National Planning Framework.

I understand from Irish Water that an allocation of €97.5m for this programme was approved by the CRU. I also understand that projects are now commencing design, and that investment under the Programme will begin to deliver in the coming years. Irish Water is working with local authorities across the country in ensuring the investment supports the growth of identified settlements where these are prioritised in line with the local authority development plans.

In addition to the major investment delivered by Irish Water, my Department also funds rural water investment under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme. This Programme supports investment in community based Group Schemes as well as supports for the improvement of wells and septic tanks. The current investment programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group established in April 2018 to conduct a review of rural water services. There is a two-strand approach to the considerations of the Working Group. Strand 1 considered the composition and distribution of funding for under the Rural Water Programme, while Strand 2 is considering the long-term future resourcing of the rural water sector more generally. The issue of wastewater infrastructure in villages not serviced by Irish Water is a matter which the Working Group will consider as part of its work. The Department expects a further report from the Group in 2021.

It may be helpful to note that Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email at Oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.