Rural water services
The responsibility for the implementation of the rural water programme was devolved to Clare County Council in 1997. In doing so the department introduced new measures in relation to group water and sewerage schemes and small public water and sewerage schemes.
National Federation of Group Water Schemes advice to group water schemes in light of the continuing spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
This purpose of this advice note is to:
- Provide guidance on contingency planning for Group Water Schemes to ensure the continuity of supply and prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus through community transmission
- Highlight that traditional water treatment methods which utilise filtration and disinfection should inactivate COVID-19 virus
The Programme operates on a multi-annual funding approach. In 2019 local authorities were invited to bid for funding based on the needs of schemes for the Rural Water Multi-Annual Programme 2019-2021. The next bids process will take place in early 2022.
Capital Funding for Group Schemes and Community Water and Waste Water Connections
Capital funding is provided under the following seven measures:
- Measure 1 - Source Protection (Group Water Scheme Sector): This measure is aimed at protecting the raw water source of existing group water schemes, thus contributing to the safety of water users through the ability of the scheme to sustainably achieve compliance with the water quality parameters of the Drinking Water Regulations on a consistent long-term basis.
- Measure 2 - Public health compliance (Group Water Scheme Sector): This measure is aimed at improving water quality in existing group water schemes, through the upgrading of their treatment facilities, so that the schemes can sustainably achieve compliance with the parameters of the Drinking Water Regulations on a consistent long-term basis.
- Measure 3 - Enhancement of existing schemes including water conservation (Group Water Scheme Sector): This measure supports projects to make existing group water schemes more efficient in their operation (e.g. water conservation and network upgrades, including storage) and contributing to good water quality on a consistent sustainable long-term basis.
- Measure 4 – New Group Water Schemes: This measure supports social and economic development in rural towns and villages and their hinterlands by providing new group water schemes where public water supply schemes or individual/private wells are not the most viable option.
- Measure 5 – Transition of Existing Group Water Schemes and Group Sewerage Schemes to the Public (Irish Water) Water Sector: This measure enables existing group water schemes and existing group sewerage schemes, where they wish to do so and with the agreement of Irish Water, to transition to the public water sector (Irish Water).
- Measure 6 - Community Connections (Water and Waste Water): This measure facilitates the continued expansion of the coverage of piped water supplies and central waste water collection systems by extension off the public (Irish Water) network.
- Measure 7 - Innovation and Research: This measure is aimed at issues in the rural water sector which, given the major transition of water services in Ireland, require new and innovative approaches and solutions.
Under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021, funding is available for new group water schemes and the extension or upgrading of existing schemes.
Upgrades (Measure 3, MARWP) – Grants, for works to address network infrastructural deficits and efficiency of operation under this measure of up to 85% of cost are available ,subject to a maximum grant of €7,650 per house.
New Group Water Schemes (Measure 4, MARWP) – Grants under this measure of up to 85% of cost are available ,subject to a maximum grant of €7,650 per house. The measure also applies to extensions of existing group water schemes.
To apply for an extension or upgrade of the scheme, please complete and submit the Grant Application Form for Upgrading of a Group Water Scheme [PDF, 62KB] to the Rural Water Programme.
Irish Water have established standards and procedures to allow for the taking in charge of a group water scheme. A scheme may apply to be taken in charge by Irish Water via Clare County Council. A grant, for necessary upgrade works, to allow for the takeover, may be made available on review by Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, through the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP).
Schemes are required to meet the Taking in Charge requirements as set out by Irish Water in order to progress the scheme into the public network. In order to meet the Taking in Charge Requirements a grant of up to 100% of the total cost of any required upgrade works may be made available under Measure 5 of the Rural Water Programme upon application by the Group Water / Group Sewerage Scheme for necessary funding. For Group Water Schemes, the scheme must meet the strict water loss requirements, 0.4m³/km/hr, as set out under the process in order to advance a Taking in Charge application.
Please note that two thirds (2/3) of all the members of a group scheme must agree to transfer the ownership of their scheme to the Council and all outstanding issues regarding ownership of lands, rights of access etc. need to be regularised to enable any project to under this action to proceed.
The following are the necessary application forms and standards:
- Irish Water Taking In Charge Basic Standards for Group Water Schemes [PDF, 310KB]
- Application for Taking in Charge by Irish Water [PDF, 191KB]
- Consent of Members for Takeover of Group Scheme by Irish Water [PDF, 106KB]
- Taking In Charge Group Water Scheme Connections Schedule [PDF, 60KB]
In order for Clare County Council to administer funding in relation to Taking in Charge, all necessary documentation must be submitted to Clare County Council in advance.
An integral part of maintaining and improving the quality and reliability of rural water supplies is the annual operational subsidy, payable by local authorities, towards the operational and management costs of group water schemes supplying water for domestic use.
The aim of the subsidy is to ensure the principles of equity of treatment and equivalent financial support equally between households on public water supplies (Irish Water) and those in group water schemes.
The type and amount of operational subsidy payable will be dependent on a number of factors.
A brief outline of subsidy type is set out below.
This subsidy, with two funding thresholds, is payable towards the general operational and management costs of all types of group water schemes. Detailed requirements are set out in Part A of the Operational Subsidy Terms and Conditions.
The Subsidy A rate per house paid to a scheme will not exceed:
- €231.00 for privately sourced group water scheme (i.e. supplying water to its members from its own source and water treatment plant).
- €115.00 for publicly sourced group water scheme (i.e. supplying water provided by Irish Water to its members).
This subsidy is payable (in addition to Subsidy A) towards O&M costs associated with “bona fide” DBO contracts for group water schemes. Detailed requirements are set out in Part B of the Operational Subsidy Terms and Conditions. Subsidy B is made up of two parts, a fixed element and a volumetric element.
This Subsidy only applies to a private group water scheme that is:
- part of a ‘bona fide’ long-term Operational and Maintenance (O&M) contract [e.g. as part of a bone fide approved Design Build Operate (DBO) project], and
- is self-managed by a member of the scheme, by a GWS Employee or a contractor engaged by the scheme.
Please see explanatory memorandum for further details.
Introduced in 2018 and updated in January 2019
This subsidy is payable (in addition to Subsidy A) to Group Water Schemes that agree to advance and progress an amalgamation and/or rationalisation strategy involving their
merger into a new entity.
The objective of Subsidy C is to incentivise small private group water schemes to move through amalgamation and/or rationalisation to what will be, in the long term, a more sustainable (through economies of scale) existence.
Detailed requirements are set out in Part C of the Operational Subsidy Terms and Conditions.
This Subsidy only applies to a private group water scheme that has less than 100 houses.
The incentive is limited to three years from formal initiation of the process by a scheme to progress into a more sustainable entity.
The Subsidy C rate per house paid to a scheme will not exceed:
- Prior to January 1st 2019 - €50.00 supplement to Subsidy A per house, for 3 years - combined maximum ceiling of €281 (Max Subsidy A of €231 plus Subsidy C of €50).
- From January 1st 2019 - €100.00 supplement to Subsidy A per house, for 3 years - combined maximum ceiling of €331 (Max Subsidy A of €231 plus Subsidy C of €100).
An advance payment may be made to a scheme in relation to the subsidies described above.
The advance is subject to a limit of 70% of the previous years subsidy.
Please note that payment of grants/subsidies to group water schemes will be aligned to Government policy on encouraging the use of Eircodes. As such, each GWS will be required to provide this information for each property included in the application for subsidy payments.
This requirement is now incorporated into the relevant part of the application form in the Department’s explanatory memorandum. An information leaflet has also been prepared to assist GWS on Eircodes.
Full details of the grant, procedure and application form are set out in the explanatory memorandum and application form [PDF, 231KB]
Grants are available under the Rural Water Programme for the carrying out of improvement works to a private water supply (this means a water supply providing water intended for human consumption and domestic purposes that serves only one house). The relevant Regulations are Housing (Private Water Supply Financial Assistance) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 192 of 2020).
The key features of the scheme are:
- The grant payable for rehabilitation works is 85% of approved costs subject to a maximum of €3,000.
- The grant payable for the provision of a new well is 85% of approved costs subject to a maximum of €5,000, where the housing authority agrees that this is the most appropriate solution.
- In recognising the role of the grant in improving water quality, the water quality treatment element (typically filtration and Ultra Violet treatment) qualifies for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000. This can be claimed on its own or in addition to either the grant for rehabilitation works or the grant for a new well.
- The minimum grant threshold is €750.
The scheme does not apply to houses to which a public or group scheme water supply has already been provided or can reasonably be provided. Works carried out before a prior inspection by the local authority do not qualify under the scheme.
* Where the local authority is of the opinion that the works have not been undertaken in accordance with the application, or have not been satisfactorily completed, the authority may (a) determine a revised approved cost, (b) withhold payment of the grant until the applicant carries out such alterations to the existing works or such additional works as may be notified by the authority.
* Where the local authority is of the opinion that the actual cost of the qualifying works is less than the approved cost, a revised approved cost will be determined.
Application Form and Terms and Conditions in English and Irish can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
Well owners should check their wells to ensure their health is not at risk. This includes checking that there aren't any sources of pollution entering their well and testing the well water at least once a year, ideally following heavy rain when it is most at risk of contamination.
The EPA provide easy to use information on its website explaining what well owners should do to protect their health.
The National Rural Water Monitoring Committee was set up to monitor and advise on the development and implementation of policy in relation to the rural water programme. This committee has representatives from the private group water scheme sector, the local authorities, rural organisation and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government under the stewardship of an independent chairperson.
The committee will report annually to the minister on the operation of the devolved programme.
County committees were set up in most counties to advise on the operation of the devolved programme locally. The Clare County RWMC (Rural Water Monitoring Committee) is made up as follows:
- 3 members of the council
- 1 member from the IFA
- 1 member from the ICMSA
- 2 members from the county federation of group water schemes
- 2 council officials
The County Liaison Officer was appointed to strengthen the consultative process and to facilitate the flow of information between the group water sector and the local authority. The County Liaison Officer deals with the day to day issues in the implementation of the devolved programme and can be contacted at the council offices or by telephone at (065) 6866115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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