The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, T.D., announced on Friday, 15th December, a range of measures aimed at improving rural water services.
The changes will come into effect from January 1st 2018. The Minister said that the package of measures will bring greater equity and fairness for rural water users and will ensure that domestic members of group water schemes get comparable benefits to those being served by the public supply through Irish Water.
In addition to the increased subsidies, the Minister announced a review of wider investment needs of rural water services, which is to commence in early 2018.
He announced the measures following endorsement recently of the revised subsidy levels for group water schemes by the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) at a special delegates’ conference.
Subsidies are intended to cover the operating cost of providing domestic water services to households supplied by group water schemes.
The changes are:
- For the annual subsidy towards the operation and maintenance costs of group water schemes providing a supply of water for domestic purposes (knows as ‘Subsidy A’):
- The maximum subsidy per house in private group water schemes is to increase from €140 per household to €231. Private group water schemes are schemes that supply water from their own water treatment plant. An increased maximum subsidy of €281 per household is available for small schemes of less than 100 houses that are willing, in the interests of providing in the long run a more sustainable water supply to their members, to progress towards rationalisation or amalgamation with other schemes.
- The maximum subsidy per house for public group water schemes is to increase from €70 per household to €115. These are schemes that supply water to their members that is provided by Irish Water.
- The portion of costs than can be recouped by group water schemes is to increase. Currently, typically up 60% of costs can be covered by the subsidy payments. This is to increase to 85%. There will also be changes and simplifications to how these costs are assessed.
- For the additional subsidy that is paid towards the costs of group water schemes that have long-term Operation and Maintenance Contracts (e.g. as part of a Design Build Operate project) for the delivery of water (known as ‘Subsidy B)’:
- There is an increase in the level of recoupable volumetric costs incurred by group water schemes operating under these contracts from 60% to 85%. This will allow for a greater portion of costs to be included within the subsidy payment.
The Minister further indicated that he is currently finalising proposals to increase the level of grant support for users of private wells, with details to be announced in the coming weeks
Announcing the measures, Minister Murphy said:
“Secure, high quality water services in Rural Ireland are vital to sustaining communities, businesses and water-intensive industries like the Agri-Food sector.
“In its report published last April, the joint Oireachtas Committee on the future funding of Domestic Water Services correctly identified the importance of equity of treatment and equivalent financial support between those on public water supplies and those with private water services,” continued Minister Murphy.
“In announcing these measure, I am implementing key elements of the joint Oireachtas Committee’s recommendations.”
Source: Merrion Street.ie