Seanad Éireann - Volume 150 - 12 March, 1997
Adjournment Matters. - Leitrim Water and Sewerage Schemes.
Mr. Reynolds Mr. Reynolds
Mr. Reynolds: I wish to raise the issue of Government and Cohesion Funding for the north Leitrim regional water scheme which would take in Drumkeerin, Manorhamilton and Dromahaire. The scheme is designed to serve County Leitrim north of Lough Allen. It will serve the three towns named and approximately 56 rural group water schemes in north Leitrim. The source of supply will be Lough Gill from which an estimated 5,500 gallons per day will be pumped.
Preliminary work on the scheme has been done in tandem with Sligo County Council which is using the same source for a supply to Sligo and its environs. Both councils worked together to prepare and make a water extraction order and submitted a combined application for cohesion funding. The part of the application relating to County Sligo has been successful while the County Leitrim element has not been funded to date. The proposal from Leitrim County Council involved the provision of an intake point and an intake pump house on the Lough Gill shoreline, the provision of a water treatment plant at Moneyduff near Dromahaire, the provision of a reservoir at the treatment plant and another high level reservoir 2,000 metres away and the provision of a booster plant at Drumkeerin. The scheme will involve the provision of approximately 40 kilometres of pipeline. The estimated cost of the proposals is 9.779 million ECU of which 8.312 million ECU was sought from the Cohesion Fund.
The rural group water schemes which it is proposed to serve are seriously deficient in most cases and fall far short of the quality of drinking water intended for human consumption regulations. This is a serious matter in the areas affected.
The existing water supplies in Dromahaire and Drumkeerin are also seriously deficient. In Manorhamilton it has been necessary over the past number of years to transport water by tanker during the summer months as the existing supply runs dry. Leitrim County Council is in the difficult situation of trying to build ten council houses in Manorhamilton but, due to the lack of a proper water supply, are unable to do so.
The lack of a suitable supply is detrimental to social and economic development. The Cohesion Fund represents one of the last real chances of providing an acceptable, basic necessity for approximately 9,000 people in north Leitrim. Leitrim County Council has invested almost £300,000 bringing this proposal to the current state of design and unless the scheme proceeds this expenditure will have been wasted.
I also wish to raise the issue of funding for the Lurganboy sewerage scheme. Lurganboy is a satellite town of Manorhamilton which has grown significantly in the past number of years. It has no sewerage supply and, unfortunately, it is  unable to expand in either a business or social sense. It is one of the most significant tourist locations in Ireland with further potential based on its scenery. However, it cannot achieve its potential due to the absence of a proper sewerage scheme.
I would be grateful if the Minister gave us good news that money will be provided for the schemes in north County Leitrim. I wish the Minister a long and healthy retirement. As the first Minister for Equality and Law Reform he has done some mould breaking things and he shall not be forgotten. I wish him and his family a happy and long retirement.
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor) Mervyn Taylor
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I thank Senator Reynolds for his kind comments which I appreciate. My colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, regrets that he is unable to be present to reply to the issues raised by the Senator due to other commitments. However, I am glad to have the opportunity of explaining to the House the Minister's position on the proposed water scheme for Drumkeerin, Manorhamilton and Dromahaire and the sewerage scheme for Lurganboy. Before commenting on these schemes, I wish to refer to the broader picture in relation to investment in water and sewerage services nationally and in County Leitrim.
The provision of a modern environmental infrastructure to support economic and social development is a high priority of this Government. With the support of EU funding, we have over recent years greatly expanded the water and sewerage capital programme. Senators will be aware that the Minister recently announced a £150 million programme for 1997, the largest in the history of the State.
County Leitrim is benefiting greatly from this investment. Of particular note is the £6 million south Leitrim regional water supply project which is being funded entirely by the Exchequer and is due to be completed shortly. Dromod, an important stopping off point for the hire cruiser fleet, is also benefiting from Exchequer expenditure. A grant of £137,000 was approved last year for the development of a sewerage pump-out facility for cruisers and public toilets and showers for both cruiser and caravan visitors to this attractive village. Furthermore, the proposed Dromod sewerage scheme, costing £790,000, is included in the 1997 programme with a view to commencement later this year.
 Leitrim is set to benefit further under the INTERREG 2 European Community initiative for Border areas. INTERREG 2 aims to protect and enhance water quality and encourage environmental protection. Under the programme, Leitrim County Council is addressing the planning of new sewerage schemes at Newtowngore, Keshcarrigan and Carrick-on-Shannon so that they can commence construction this year. These schemes will cost approximately £750,000.
The Cohesion Fund is providing major financial support for investment in water and sewerage projects around the country. The Department of the Environment has submitted applications for 75 water and sewerage projects, costing well over £400 million, to the European Commission for approval. So far 37 applications involving projects worth over £200 million have been approved.
With the objective of controlling the level of nutrient input to Lough Ree and the Shannon system, the Department submitted an application to the European Commission for Cohesion Fund assistance to provide essential sewage collection and treatment systems at a number of towns and villages in Counties Leitrim, Cavan, Roscommon and Longford. While the Commission has approved some of these schemes, no decision has been received in relation to any of those located in County Leitrim.
Another application for Cohesion Funding for the Lough Gill regional water supply scheme providing for schemes in counties Leitrim and Sligo has been submitted to the European Commission. Included in this proposal was a major water supply scheme for Drumkeerin, Manorhamilton and Dromahaire at a cost of over £9 million. Approval has been received in respect of some of the Lough Gill schemes at an estimated cost of £10 million. To date there has been no decision by the Commission on the County Leitrim schemes. However, because of the particular priority attached to the proposed Manorhamilton water scheme, it has included it in the 1997 programme to be advanced through the planning phase.
With regard to Lurganboy sewerage scheme which is estimated to cost in the region of £300,000, it is not possible at present, given the high level of existing commitments under the water and sewerage capital programme, to advance this scheme. The scheme will be further examined in the context of the prioritisation of schemes for the work programme in future years.
The Seanad adjourned at 9.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 13 March 1997.
Seanad Éireann 150 Adjournment Matters. Leitrim Water and Sewerage Schemes.