15 October 2019
By Bryan Smyth
Mr. Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government this week announced allocations under the new capital investment programme for water services in rural areas. The new Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme is to run from 2019 to 2021 with over €2.3 million for Cork Projects.
This funding is being provided through local authorities and will largely support infrastructure improvements for Group Water Schemes in rural areas. The capital investment is being provided under the National Development Plan 2018-2027.
Minister Murphy said “We are working with local authorities and group water schemes across Ireland as partners to ensure that people in rural Ireland can expect the same outcomes in the delivery of water services as those in urban areas. This requires significant investment, which is being delivered. Today’s new programme will run from 2019 to 2021 and will benefit over 104,000 households. These benefits arise in having a more resilient and better quality water service.”
The announcement follows a review the Minister put in place to examine the wider investment needs relating to rural water services. In 2018 the Minister appointed a high level Working Group which made recommendations for changes and improvements in how funding is targeted. Funding under seven different investment measures was approved by the Minister and is being announced today.
• Measure 1 – Source Protection: This is aimed at protecting the water source of group water schemes in contributing to the safety of water users. 72 schemes are approved with total a funding allocation of €2,543,556. 14,250 households are expected to benefit.
• Measure 2 – Public health compliance: This is aimed at improving water quality in existing group water schemes through the upgrading of their treatment facilities. There is a total investment of €16,982,257 across 143 schemes. This is expected to benefit nearly 34,400 households.
• Measure 3 – Enhancement of existing schemes including water conservation: This measure supports projects to make existing group water schemes more efficient in their operation. €15,073,836 has been approved for 201 projects, with over 39,000 households to benefit.
• Measure 4 – New Group Water Schemes: This supports social and economic development in rural towns and villages and their hinterlands by providing new group water schemes where public water supply schemes or individual private wells are not the most viable option. 15 projects are funded with a total investment of €2,202,629. Over 660 households are set to benefit.
• Measure 5 – Transition of Existing Group Water and Sewerage Schemes to the Public Water Sector: This measure enables existing group water schemes and group sewerage schemes to transition to the public water sector and be taken in charge by Irish Water. 157 projects are being funded with €15,451,908 in total. 15,510 households are set to benefit.
• Measure 6 – Community Connections (Water and Wastewater): This is a new measure and facilitates the continued expansion of the coverage of piped water supplies and sewerage systems by extension off the public network operated by Irish Water. 30 projects are being supported with a total investment of €2,051,529. This is set to benefit over 370 households.
• Measure 7 – Innovation and Research: This measure is aimed at supporting innovation and research in the rural water sector. 3 projects are approved for a total funding allocation of €41,000.
In February 2019, the Minister invited local authorities to bid for funding in consultation with local group water schemes. 809 proposals were received and assessed by an Expert Panel comprising independent, stakeholder and Departmental representation. 621 projects have been approved by the Minister based on recommendations from the Expert Panel.
Commenting further on the new investment programme, Minister Murphy said:
“Last year I initiated a review of rural water services. We are now seeing the first part of this work being implemented through a new capital programme. I want rural communities to benefit from top quality water infrastructure and services. We need to protect water sources and ensure the highest standards in water treatment. The Government is making this happen through increased investment.
The review group that I established will continue its work and report further to me on the longer-term investment needs for rural water services that go beyond the programme I announced today. Good quality water services are a prerequisite to every aspect of social and economic development, and health and wellbeing in all parts of the country. I am planning for future investment needs by building solid foundations. I am working in partnership with all of the various groups, bodies and agencies to deliver increased investment.”