Ireland announces record investment in water and sewerage services
The Irish Department's Water and Sewerage Services Investment Programme for 1999 (£275m), is a 50% increase on 1998 expenditure and more than double that of 1996.
The Programme provides for:
- 50 major water and sewerage schemes to commence construction this year, a further 64 are to continue construction and 84 to be advanced through planning.
- £15m to support construction of a significant number of schemes designed to accelerate the supply of housing sites;
- £5m to fund new measures under the special 3-year provision of £45m to support rural towns and villages development;
- over £28m to further expand the Rural Water Programme; and
- the continuation of a number of subprogrammes and technical initiatives including water conservation, sludge management and river and lake catchment monitoring all aimed at improving the efficiency, quality and cost effectiveness of water supply and waste water treatment.
Overall, between 1994 and the end of this year, the Government will have invested over £960m of capital funding in water and sewerage services.
In 1998, 38 major water and sewerage schemes were completed. A further 25 are expected to be completed this year. The 64 schemes to continue construction this year include major sewerage schemes for Dublin – elements of this scheme, the largest sewerage scheme in the State, already started in 1998 – and also Cork, Limerick, Dundalk and Galway. “Within a few years all the major urban centres around the country will be provided with state-of-the-art sewage treatment facilities”, says Environment Minister, Dempsey.
Construction will also continue this year on a major water scheme for Sligo and surrounding areas. Work is expected to commence this year on the Monaghan Water scheme and water supply schemes for Roscrea and for Ballina in County Mayo which will benefit the proposed Coca Cola Plant in the town.
The Rural Water Programme will benefit from a provision of £28m in 1999 to support a range of measures for improving the availability and quality of rural water supplies. This includes £3m as the first tranche of a £5m package announced on budget day for more intensive water quality monitoring and treatment measures.
£5m has been allocated in 1999 for the Rural Towns and Villages Initiative. This £45m Initiative provides for the construction of water services infrastructure over the next 3 years in rural areas to support development and combat rural depopulation. Full details of the Rural Water Programme and the Rural Towns and Villages Initiative will be announced in a few weeks.
The water and sewerage services investment programme has benefited from substantial EU support since the start of the current National Development Plan. Between 1994 and the end of this year just under 75% of the total capital investment of £960m has been co-financed by the EU, with most of the money being provided through the Cohesion Fund. Notwithstanding this level of investment the Minister acknowledged that “There is still a major infrastructural deficit to be made up and a strong case is being made by the Government for continuation of EU funding for infrastructure post-1999”.
The Minister also highlighted the need for greater private sector involvement in the provision of public works. A special unit has been established in his Department to pursue the potential for Public Private Partnerships for water, sewerage, roads and other services which come within the Department’s remit. This unit is assessing a number of candidate water services projects, particularly those which have a direct economic impact, such as the provision of services to aid the development of Bellview Port in Waterford and development in the south western part of Dundalk.
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