Seanad Éireann - Volume 168 - 17 October, 2001
Adjournment Matters. - Water and Sewerage Schemes.
Mr. Glynn Mr. Glynn
Mr. Glynn: Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. The matter I wish to raise concerns the need for the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to approve the application of Westmeath County Council for an extension to the Killucan-Rathwire and Rochfortbridge sewerage schemes. The schemes are in two different locations. The villages of Killucan and Rathwire are almost connected but they have separate identities. A sewerage scheme was installed in Killucan and Rathwire in the 1980s to cater for 600 people. Given the enormous development which has taken place, especially in Rathwire, the sewage treatment plant reached capacity two years ago at least and it is necessary to increase its capacity. Perhaps the Minister will consider this matter favourably. I am very au fait with the area because Rathwire is the village where I went to school. Many members of my late brother's family still live there, one of whom is in business in the village.
Westmeath County Council has applied for an increase in the capacity of the scheme to cater for a population of 2,000. The scheme was originally designed for a population of 600 and that was reached two years ago at least. I would not like to regard Rochfortbridge as a village because it is a small town which has seen extensive development and is on the main N6 thoroughfare. A number of developers, some local, are encountering great difficulty in obtaining planning permission from Westmeath County Council because the sewerage plant has reached capacity.
I know the Department has indicated in all such situations that funding could be forthcoming under the serviced land initiative scheme and that perhaps that is the way forward in this regard. I do not suggest that is unacceptable to the councillors from the Kilbeggan electoral area in which Rochfortbridge is located, but I would be grateful if the Minister and the Department of the Environment and Local Government could see their way to funding an extension to both sewerage schemes. I have made the case and I appeal to the Minister present to be as positive as he can in response.
Dr. Moffatt Dr. Moffatt
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): I thank Senator Glynn for raising the issue on the Adjournment. The remarkable social and economic growth of recent years has been reflected in a corresponding expansion of the water services investment programme. The provision of modern environmental infrastructure to support economic objectives has been a major focus of Government investment over the past four and a half years. Total planned spending on water services infrastructure over the period of the national development plan amounts to almost £3 billion. This investment is aimed at supporting economic and social development, employment generation and the achievement of high environmental standards.
The additional water production capacity created during last year alone equalled the average daily requirements of a population equivalent to 309,000 persons. This represented in one year 36% of the corresponding figure for the entire 1994 to 1999 period. The increase in waste water treatment capacity last year represented a population equivalent to 180,000, almost half the entire increase for the 1994 to 1999 period.
Funding is being provided for new water services projects in every county. The total investment proposed for County Westmeath under the first phase of the programme amounts to just more than £52 million in respect of 14 schemes. Approximately two thirds of this, more than £34 million, is in respect of four large schemes which will deal with water supplies to serve Mullingar and south Westmeath, including Athlone, and sewerage schemes for both Mullingar and Athlone. Major schemes will be added in future as the programme is progressively rolled forward to the end of the national development plan.
The current water services investment programme for Westmeath takes into account the list of water and sewerage schemes submitted by Westmeath County Council in response to the request from the Department of the Environment and Local Government to local authorities to undertake a fresh assessment of the needs for capital works in their areas and to prioritise their proposals on the basis of the assessments. The  upgrading of waste water treatment plants at Killucan-Rathwire and Rochfortbridge were included in Westmeath's assessment. However, given the level of competing national demand, the funding available and the absence of clear prioritisation by the county council of these projects, it was not possible to include them in the programme at that time.
A separate proposal for a sewerage scheme for Rochfortbridge was submitted for consideration by Westmeath County Council in an early round of the serviced land initiative but was not approved because the scale of the project envisaged was not considered to be justified. No further proposal has been received from the council but we will be prepared to look at any revised plans that offer additional justification for the proposed scale of the project.
Killucan-Rathwire was included with a number of other schemes in a more recent application submitted to my Department by Westmeath County Council under the serviced land initiative. Again, the scale of the project envisaged did not appear to be fully justified. Consequently, on 19 September last the council was asked to review the scale of the proposals for Killucan-Rathwire and a number of other villages mentioned in the submission. A meeting was subsequently held between officials of the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the council to discuss these proposed schemes. The council has agreed to submit revised proposals in respect of Killucan-Rathwire and these will be dealt with as soon as they are received.
Mr. Glynn Mr. Glynn
Mr. Glynn: The revised scheme for Killucan-Rathwire will be lodged with the Department within the next week.
Seanad Éireann 168 Adjournment Matters. Water and Sewerage Schemes.