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Group water schemes and rural water issues

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Group water schemes

Approximately 6% of the population get their drinking water from group water schemes (community-run schemes). Of these, about 70% get their water from private group schemes, which have a privately-sourced water supply. The remaining schemes get their water from an Irish Water connection. Members of group schemes pay water charges but have some of their water services costs subsidised by the government. A very small number of households receive sewerage services through group sewerage schemes, which are also community-run and receive government subsidies.

You can find more information on the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, the group representing group water schemes, on the federation's website.

Rural Water Programme

Under the department's Rural Water Programme, the Exchequer funds improvements to group water scheme and group sewerage scheme infrastructure so schemes can provide a water supply that meets water quality requirements. Some of the day-to-day costs of group water schemes are also subsidised. Administered by local authorities, the programme also helps to provide new group sewerage schemes and improve private individual water supplies where no alternative supply is available.

An annual subsidy per house is available to group schemes for the operational cost of providing domestic water:

• up to 70 euro for each house supplied from a public (Irish Water) source

• up to 140 euro for each house supplied from a private source (well, lake, borehole etc.)

• up to 220 euro for each house where water disinfection and/or treatment is provided under a Design Build Operate (DBO) contract

To improve the quality of drinking water in group water schemes and to support longer term planning, the department introduced a new, multi-annual capital funding framework in January 2016. The new structures will provide greater funding certainty for priority investment needs, which will support proper planning and sustainable development in rural areas. It will also help Ireland meet its Water Framework Directive commitments.

Funding of group schemes for 2016 to 2018

Local authorities have been requested to bid for funding based on the needs of schemes from 2016 to the end of 2018.

Funding for group water and sewerage schemes will be provided under the following measures:

  1. Environmental and public health compliance (group water sector) - grants under this measure, to improve water quality, equal 100% of treatment facilities costs and 85% of other necessary works costs, subject to a maximum of €7,650 per house.
  2. Enhancement of existing schemes (group water sector) - grants under this heading are 85% of necessary works costs, subject to a maximum of €7,650 per house. A supplemental grant is available for new group water schemes in certain circumstances.
  3. Rural development (group water sector) - grants under this heading are 85% of necessary works costs, subject to a maximum of €7,650 per house. A supplemental grant is available for new group water schemes in certain circumstances.
  4. Transition of schemes to public water and waste water sector – grants of 100% of the cost of works for take-overs of group water schemes and grants of up to 75% of cost subject to a maximum grant of €6,750 per house are available for new group sewerage schemes.
  5. Innovation and research – funding will be allocated within the overall funding available for this stream of investment.
  6. Individual wells and on-site wastewater treatment systems – funding for this measure is demand-led.

As part of changes to the programme, the department will develop a remedial action list for group water schemes. This is aimed at addressing water quality issues. In 2016, the list will address the requirements of specific schemes with trihalomethanes (dangerous disinfection by-products) exceedences. From 2017 onwards, it will address water quality issues more generally.

For information on the Rural Water Programme funding or funding application forms, please contact the rural water programme liaison officer in your local authority.

For more information on these capital grants, click on Circular L1/16.

Investing in Your Future - EU Funding

The EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) provides funding towards the Rural Water Programme.

Currently, ERDF funding category ‘Priority 2: Environment and Risk Prevention of the BMW Regional Operational Programme (OP) 2007-2013’ funds some water treatment projects in Galway and Roscommon.

National Rural Water Services Committee

This committee advises the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in relation to rural water policy and investment and is composed of representatives of the group water sector, local authorities, rural organisations and Government departments.

For more information on this committee, contact the Water Services Governance and Finance Section. Phone: +353 (0)1 888 2000.

Expert Panel on the Rural Water Multi-Annual Programme 2016-2018

Under the new multi-annual funding framework, the department established an expert panel to examine proposals from local authorities for projects under measures 1(b), 3, 4 and 5 of the Rural Water Multi-Annual Programme 2016 – 2018.

The department accepted the recommendations of the panel in full when approving the 2016 Rural Water Programme allocations, announced on 30 August 2016. For more information on these allocations, click on Circular L6/16.

Report of the expert panel

Also available are:

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