Tuesday, 12 December 2006
Water and Sewerage Schemes
I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach for allowing me to raise this issue and the Minister of State for coming to reply. For many years the town of Kinvara has been in need of a sewerage scheme which comes within the small schemes projects. I hope we can get approval and funding for the scheme. The people of Kinvara have waited many years for such a scheme. While the town is a tourist area, tourism cannot develop in the absence of a sewerage scheme. We would also like to see the development of the oyster and mussel farms. It is hard to envisage housing development while no sewerage scheme exists. In the summer there is the problem of stench from the bay. Given the length of time it has taken to have a decision made on the scheme, people are concerned it will never happen.
Recently the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, was in Gort and met a community group from Kinvara who were anxious to have a decision. I hope the Department can make the decision quickly. I would appreciate it if approval were given so that work could begin as soon as possible.
I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche. I thank Senator Kitt for the opportunity to update the House on the progress of this important scheme.
The Minister is conscious of the unsatisfactory state of affairs in Kinvara where raw sewage is being discharged directly into the bay. This arrangement is not acceptable in this day and age. The Department is determined that it should end as quickly as possible. Many representations have been received about this scheme and I am aware of how important it is locally.
I am glad to re-affirm that the funding for the scheme has been set aside in the Department's water services investment programme 2005-2007. A sum of €2.8 million has been earmarked for Kinvara and this money is available for drawdown by Galway County Council as soon as it is required. The position with the scheme is that the Department is finalising its examination of Galway County Council's preliminary report in light of the additional information received from the council at the end of October.
The preliminary report is a detailed document that sets out the objectives, proposed areas to be served, and outputs expected from a water services scheme. Given the fundamental importance of the preliminary report, the Department must be fully satisfied that the proposals contained in it can meet the environmental objectives set for the scheme and that they represent the most appropriate and cost effective solution from a public expenditure point of view. Needless to say, a scheme cannot just deal with current problems, it must also ensure that infrastructure is put in place to cater for future needs and, in this case, to protect Kinvara Bay from pollution for the foreseeable future.
The Department is anxious to get the scheme under way as soon as possible and to see it progressing through the approval and contract processes and on to construction with the least possible delay. The Minister will, therefore, ensure that a decision on the preliminary report is conveyed to Galway County Council as soon as possible. Approval of the report will allow the council to prepare contract documents. Since it is expected to cost less than €5 million, the council will be free to advance the scheme right through to construction without further reference to the Department. A number of streamlining measures have been introduced to speed up water and sewerage schemes being funded under the Department's water services investment programme. As a result the Kinvara scheme will move ahead quickly once the preliminary report is approved.
I assure the Senator that I have listened carefully to what he has said and will report back to the Department. I am sure the Department will do everything it can to facilitate an early start on the construction of the scheme.