Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Water Services

4:20 pm

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I agree with the points made about Castlemagner. They apply to all our small towns and villages.

We launched the Croí Cónaithe towns fund this morning. A lot of Government policies are converging to try to attract families back to living in small communities. It is vital that such communities can grow in a sustainable way.

I will outline the position in regard to Irish Water’s responsibility on this issue. I know Deputy Michael Moynihan raised the issue directly with the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, and the Minister recently had the opportunity to visit the site in question with the Deputy in May. The Minister is aware of the importance of the delivery of this upgrade and is fully committed, through the Department, to supporting Irish Water in its delivery of the project.

The Water Services Acts 2007 to 2017 set out the arrangements in place for the delivery of water and wastewater services by Irish Water, and for the scrutiny and oversight provisions that apply in respect of these arrangements. As the Deputy will understand, the provision of facilities in Castlemagner is a matter for Irish Water in the first instance. Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local level. Irish Water takes a strategic, nationwide approach to asset planning and investment, and meeting customer requirements. The prioritisation and progression of individual projects and programmes is a matter for determination by Irish Water.

My Department has made inquiries of Irish Water on the issue mentioned by Deputy Moynihan, and I am informed as follows. In October 2021, Irish Water announced the upgrade of the Castlemagner wastewater treatment works as part of its small towns and villages growth programme. This announcement instigated a series of steps towards the development of an upgraded wastewater treatment plant to provide for residential growth in the village in accordance with the proposed Cork county development plan. The initial steps involve an assessment of needs process: the collation of this data is under way and a number of upgrade scenarios will be developed and considered, ahead of a scope of works being agreed. Once this scope of works is defined, the project will move to detailed design, undergoing statutory planning, tendering and procurement stages, as required.

Again, both the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, and I recognise the importance of these upgrade works and our Department will continue to work to support Irish Water in the delivery of this project.

The Government is aware that significant and sustained investment is needed to ensure the continued operation, upgrade and repair of the country’s water and wastewater infrastructure and to support economic development in the years to come. In this regard, as part of budget 2022, my Department secured funding of more than €1.57 billion to support water services. This includes €1.459 billion in respect of domestic water services provision by Irish Water. This overall investment will deliver significant improvements in 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. I hope this response is of use to the Deputy.


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