Wednesday, 4 October 2006
Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Water and Sewerage Schemes
Question 148: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the polluter pays problem faced by the residents of Achill Sound in relation to the long awaited sewerage scheme will be resolved; if the local contribution will be revised; when this scheme will begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31081/06]
Question 149: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on reports by the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, that areas in several counties suffered water rationing in summer 2006; that the Dublin area requires €600 million water pipe or desalination plant and that much needed housing developments are being delayed due to lack of water supply capacity; and his further views on whether the universal charging element of the EU Water Framework Directive should be implemented as soon as possible. [31085/06]
Question 161: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on using the building regulations to have all new homes fitted with water meters in anticipation of the implementation of the universal water metering and charging required under the EU Water Framework Directive (details supplied) which must to be implemented by 2010 at the latest; if he envisages all domestic buildings being retrofitted; and if his Department has conducted a cost-benefit analysis of meters being installed at construction phase as opposed to retrofitted. [31084/06]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 161 together.
I am satisfied that Ireland's policies in relation to water services, including the exemption of householders from water charges, are consistent with the EU Water Framework Directive. Therefore the issue of metering new homes generally or retrofitting existing homes does not arise now or by 2010. The charging policies of the Water Framework Directive are being implemented in Ireland in relation to all non-domestic sectors. Local authorities are required to recover the cost of providing water services from the users of these services, by means of a meter based volumetric charge.
My Department is aware that local authorities may in particular circumstances meter domestic water usage and that some authorities may require the installation of a water meter as a condition of a grant of planning permission. I understand that this is for the purpose of assisting water management and conservation measures. It is not connected to domestic water charges since there is a statutory prohibition on the charging of households for domestic water services. I understand that, while a presentation at a conference of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes referred to the potential effects at the time of the prolonged dry period this summer, no formal report or statement has been issued by the Federation.
My Department has provided €2.55m to Dublin City Council for the Dublin Water (Long Term Sources) Development Study under the Water Services Investment Programme 2005 — 2007. I understand that the Study Report will shortly be presented to the Council's Strategic Policy Committee. Any resulting proposals for funding under the Water Services Investment Programme will have to be carefully justified in terms of size and cost. The current phase of the Programme, covering the period 2005 to 2007, which details already approved water supply infrastructure schemes nationally, is available in the Oireachtas Library.
My Department operates a number of measures to ensure that necessary housing development is not delayed due to water supply constraints, particularly the Serviced Land Initiative (under which some 85,000 housing sites have already been made available), and schemes to provide a further 100,000 are in progress. My Department also maintains close contact with local authorities to ensure timely provision of necessary water services infrastructure to meeting housing and other development needs.