Sun, 25 Aug 2019

DUBLIN, Ireland - The Irish government has launched a new investment programme for water services in rural areas. 

The Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme will run from this year through to 2021.

Capital funding of €23 million has been provided in 2019, an increase of €3 million from the existing programme which finished in 2018.  A total of €75 million has been committed under the National Development Plan to 2021.

The announcement follows the review put in place to examine the wider investment needs relating to rural water services. Last year a high level Working Group was put together which has now made recommendations for changes and improvements, which the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy has accepted.

Key features of the Programme include:

- Significant capital investment to support Group Water Schemes in rural areas.

- A new grant measure to support rural communities to link to the public drinking water and waste water network.

- The maximum grant for refurbishment works to a domestic well will increase from €2,031 to €3,000. A new and additional provision is included for a maximum grant of €5,000 where a new well is required as an exceptional measure.

- The means test to qualify for a grant to carry out improvement works on a septic tank is being abolished and the maximum grant is being increased to €5,000.  Currently, the maximum grant amounts available are €2,500 and €4,000 depending on the applicant's means. Eligibility for the grant scheme is also being extended.

For the capital funding measures to support group water schemes, local authorities are now being invited to submit proposals, in consultation with local group water schemes in their counties.  The deadline for receipt of proposals Thursday 14 March 2019.

The changes to the grant schemes for private wells and septic tanks are planned to come into effect at the end of April 2019.  Guidelines and revised application forms will be sent to local authorities before the changes take effect.

"The Programme has been expanded and will now consist of eight separate funding measures rather than the six that were in place.  There are some significant changes from the previous programme with an increased emphasis on the protection of water sources, development of community water services connections and changes to grants for private wells and septic tanks.  To facilitate these enhancements I have secured an increased capital funding amount for the Programme of €23 million, an increase of €3 million on 2018.  Under the National Development Plan, total funding of €75 million is to be made available for the period 2019-2021," Eoghan Murphy said Friday.

"The increase in funding demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to supporting this critically important resource.  It also reflects the need for additional targeted investment in order to improve the quality and availability of rural water services."

"Good quality water services are a prerequisite to every aspect of social and economic development, and health and wellbeing in all parts of the country.  The economic development, as well as the population and employment growth and distribution targeted in the National Planning Framework to 2040 will be dependent on the capacity of our water services infrastructure," the minister said.

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