Thursday, 14 October 2004
Water and Sewerage Schemes.
I wish the Minister of State well in his position and welcome him to the House. In tabling this matter on the Adjournment, I am conscious of the fact that the scheme was ratified by Limerick County Council in its assessment of need at a December 2003 meeting. It was fifth in its priority sequence and I know that the matter has been passed on to the Minister of State's Department. The area about which we are talking is in the extreme west of the country. It embraces Loughhill, Ballyhahill, Glin and parts of Shanagolden, where the quality of water provided to urban communities is acceptable. However, there is an entire rural network there and in many cases people are not part of group water schemes. The council has justified this with the very successful Shannon Estuary water supply scheme, which has the capacity to cope with all those extra areas. It has put forward a submission which would lead to a very coherent policy for the whole area. Perhaps the Minister of State might indicate the timeframe for the Department to provide funding to proceed with the much-needed extension in the area.
I do not know whether I will be able to answer the Senator's last question, but I thank him for raising this issue. I would like, first, to give a brief overview of the major investment being made by the Department in improving water services infrastructure throughout the country, and especially in Limerick, under the national development plan.
Last May, the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Cullen, published the water services investment programme for the three-year period from 2004 to 2006, which was made up of 869 schemes at different stages of development with a total national investment value of €5 billion. Almost 150 new projects, worth €556 million, have been added to the rolling three-year programme since last year. It is the most significant milestone yet in the push to bring our water services infrastructure up to a world standard.
The total allocated to Limerick county and city under the latest phase of the water services programme comes to over €142 million, extending to some 22 individual schemes, including bundled schemes. Among those are major sewerage projects for Limerick city, Adare, Patrickswell, Athea, Askeaton, Foynes, Shanagolden, Glin, Kilmallock, Dromcollogher, Hospital, Pallasgreen and Bruff. The programme also includes major water supply schemes such as the upgrading of the Clareville water treatment plant, the provision of trunk water mains to serve Patrickswell, Adare, Croom, Pallasgreen and Oola and extensions and improvements to the Shannon Estuary water supply scheme.
Funding has also been provided under the serviced land initiative to bring additional residential sites on stream as rapidly as possible to meet housing needs at several locations around the county. It is clear from all this that a very large number of towns and villages in Limerick are directly benefiting from the drive to bring our water and sewerage infrastructure up to a modern standard.
With regard to extension of the Shannon water scheme to include Loughhill, Ballyhahill, Glin and part of Shanagolden, the framing of the water services investment programme took into account the lists of water and sewerage schemes provided by the local authorities in response to my Department's request in 2003 to produce updated assessments of the needs for capital works in their areas and to prioritise their proposals on the basis of the assessments.
An extension of the Shannon Estuary water supply scheme to Loughhill, Ballyhahill and Glin was fifth on the list of schemes submitted by Limerick County Council for the period from 2004 to 2006. A water supply scheme for Shanagolden was included as a longer term priority for the period from 2007 to 2012. Owing to the level of competing demand and the need to prioritise individual proposals on a national basis, it has not been possible to include those schemes in the programme. However, the position will be reconsidered when my Department is drawing up its next water services investment programme, having regard to their placing in the most up-to-date assessment of needs available from the local authority at that time. I assure the Senator that I will report back, having listened to what he said. It will be taken into account in framing the next programme. However, I cannot give him anything more specific at this stage.
Yes. I am not sure, but it seems to be the practice to add some schemes, since the programme is rolling. It was certainly the case last year that some were added. That happens every year. However, it seems that it will be beyond 2006. If it is a rolling programme, that might be adjusted this year or next to 2005 to 2008. I am not quite sure, but it need not necessarily mean that one must end the current three-year programme before starting another. It is often done on the basis of a rolling programme adjusted on an ongoing basis. I hear what the Senator is saying and I will raise the points he made in the Department.