Increased supports for group water schemes this week will benefit many households in Galway East.
The changes, which were announced in recent days by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, will come into effect on January 1st 2018.
I am delighted that Minister Murphy has agreed to this, following representations from myself and other rural TDs and is especially welcome in Galway East where there are a large number of group water schemes.
Increased support for group water schemes will result in 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.
The new announcement follows agreement of the revised subsidy levels with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes at a special conference. Subsidies are intended to cover the operating cost of providing domestic water services to households supplied by group water schemes.
Under the new changes, 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, 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.
I also welcome the fact that Minister Murphy 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.