Nearly €20 million has been provided for Group Water and Group Sewerage Schemes as part of the Rural Water Programme.

Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Phil Hogan today announced his Department’s 2014 block grant allocations to local authorities. The funding is aimed mainly at the improvement of water quality in group water schemes and upgrading and water conservation works in group water scheme distribution networks. Funding is also being provided towards group sewerage schemes. Responsibility for the administration of the programme is devolved to the local authorities.

The Minister also announced that he has increased the maximum grant per house applying to new group water schemes. The Department funds 85% of the cost of such schemes, subject to a maximum grant per house of €6,475. This limit of €6,475 per house is now being increased to €7,475 per house.

This increase, which restores the grant to the amount it was for a limited period in 2011, follows a recommendation from the National Rural Water Services Committee, which has a role in advising the Minister on rural water policy and investment.

The 2011 increase took effect from 1 March 2011 but only applied to new schemes commencing in 2011 and being funded from the 2011 allocation.

The Minister said “there are particular issues with regard to the putting in place of some new group water schemes where the costs involved call in to question the viability of the scheme. I am hopeful that this €1,000 increase will help some of these schemes to get off the ground and that it will play a major role in helping the people involved get a quality water supply”

He finished by saying that the National Rural Water Services Committee will be doing further work in relation to new group water scheme investment needs and that he hopes to have further recommendations from it later this year.