Seanad debates

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Commencement Matters

Drainage Schemes Status

2:30 pm

Photo of Alan KellyAlan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I hope to do so. I thank the Senator for providing me with the opportunity to outline the current status of wastewater services in Bandon. State investment in water services infrastructure was previously channelled through my Department's water services investment programme and the rural water programme, a function which is now largely devolved to local authorities. The high-level goal of the water services investment programme was to ensure the timing and scale of such investment facilitated economic and other development, compliance with statutory requirements for drinking water and wastewater treatment, and the achievement of environmental sustainability objectives.Bandon sewerage scheme phase 2 was included in the last investment programme which ran from 2010 to the end of 2013, with work to be carried out under separate contracts for the network and an upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant as well. As the Senator is no doubt aware, since 1 January 2014 Irish Water has had statutory responsibility for all aspects of water planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. This includes responsibility for the delivery of water services capital infrastructure.

Shortly after the transfer of responsibilities from local authorities to the new utility, Irish Water published its proposed capital investment plan for 2014-2016, which is available on its website. Under the capital investment plan, investment is prioritised where it can deliver the most urgently needed improvements in drinking water quality, leakage, water availability, wastewater compliance, efficiencies and customer service.

The Bandon sewerage scheme is included in the investment plan and Irish Water has provided me with an update on progress on the scheme. I understand that Bandon is served by a combined sewer system which collects storm and foul flows. The network suffers from flooding because it is overloaded and I am aware of the floods to which the Senator referred. The initial design included a two pipe system in the town, with new storm and foul combined sewers. For practical reasons, the storm pipes were only capable of removing about 25% of the storm flows from the foul system and did not resolve the flooding problem.

Irish Water has redesigned a scheme to fully resolve the flooding problem, comply with required environmental standards and to have capacity for future foul flows if they arise. The initial design of the scheme would have cost some €8 million. However, the current re-designed proposals will cost approximately €5.2 million. Irish Water has confirmed that consulting engineers are in place and the detailed design is at an advanced stage. Subject to agreement with Cork County Council regarding the inclusion or otherwise of storm water sewers, Irish Water expects to tender the contract before the end of quarter 3, 2015, which I expect to happen.


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