The deadline for group water schemes to draw down funding under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme should be extended Galway TD Seán Canney has said.
Deputy Canney said that due to delays caused by COVID-19, many group water schemes have not been able to start work on projects which have been approved for funding, and is calling on Minister Darragh O’Brien to extend the time in which that money can be drawn down.
The Rural Water Programme provides funding for improvements to private water and wastewater services in areas of rural Ireland where there are no public services.
The 2019-2021 programme allocated money to local authorities which bid for funding for projects in six areas.
The measures funded under the programme include works to protect raw water sources, improving public health compliance, enhancing water conservation, creating new group water schemes, moving group schemes onto the Irish Water network, extending that network, and research efforts.
Deputy Canney said that less than 25% of funding under the 2019-2021 programme has been drawn down, putting “severe pressure” on GWS which have been allocated funding, but have not been able to commence construction yet.
“The programme was severely affected due to COVID and this has delayed the planning and design stages,” Seán Canney said.
“The funding approval is for works that are essential to ensure in the Group Water Schemes can maintain water quality and reduces leakages and waste of water”.
“The Department need to be flexible in their approach to funding deadlines as we cannot penalise the schemes who are doing great work on a voluntary basis due to circumstances beyond their control”.