Seanad debates

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

8:00 pm

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Minister of State with special responsibility for Housing, Urban Renewal and Developing Areas, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)

I thank the Senator for raising this issue which I know is of great importance to the people of Rathmore and of south-east Kerry generally. I am aware of their concerns andhave been taking a personal interest in this scheme.

A major focus of Government spending over the past number of years has been the provision of modern environmental services to support social and economic objectives. This has led to unprecedented investment in new water and sewerage infrastructure throughout the country under the national development plan.

The Firies-Scartaglen water supply scheme is one of more than 800 such projects being funded as part of my Department's water services investment programme 2004-06. The Firies-Scartaglen scheme will improve the water supply for Gneeveguilla and surrounding area, replace the existing stream source serving Barraduff village and augment the water supply to Rathmore village. All the works have been approved for construction under the water services investment programme. I understand that a number of advance sections have already been completed in conjunction with the Rathmore sewerage scheme and road realignment between Rathmore and Barraduff. The remaining works include the construction of two reservoirs, one at Gallum and the other at the existing reservoir site at Knocknageeha. There will also be approximately 18 km of new distribution and rising mains to deliver the improved water supply to consumers in the supplyzone.

My Department authorised Kerry County Council to invite tenders for these main elements of the scheme in April 2004. Earlier this month the council submitted a proposal to my Department to appoint a contractor for the civil works contract. The recommendation is under examination in the Department and I can assure the Senator that there will be absolutely no avoidable delay in dealing with it. A recommendation from the council for the appointment of a mechanical and electrical contractor is, however, still awaited. I understand that this recommendation is also expected to be with the Department shortly. When it comes to hand it will be promptly considered. Following approval the council will then be in a position to place both contracts. Funding of over €4.3 million has been set aside for the scheme in the water services investment programme 2004-06. My Department's commitment to ensuring that improvements to the Rathmore, Barraduff and Gneeveguilla water supplies are brought about as speedily as possible is clearly demonstrated by the advance works that were previously approved and have now been completed. I can assure the Senator that the Government will be particularly pleased to see the schemes as a whole move forward to construction. My Department is aware that the three villages are being adversely affected by inadequate water supplies and that there have been overnight supply disruptions in Rathmore. The new scheme will solve all these shortcomings and ensure that all three locations will in future be guaranteed a continuous, reliable supply of top quality drinking water. As a near neighbour I wish to assure Senator Coghlan that this phase of the project will be completed with all speed.

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