Minister says funds are still in place for County Limerick sewer works

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

PLANNED upgrades to sewerage treatment networks in Askeaton, Abbeyfeale and Dromcollogher are still in line to receive funding within the next year despite Government spending cuts across the board, Minister for Environment Phil Hogan has said.

PLANNED upgrades to sewerage treatment networks in Askeaton, Abbeyfeale and Dromcollogher are still in line to receive funding within the next year despite Government spending cuts across the board, Minister for Environment Phil Hogan has said.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan, Minister Hogan has said that €29 million remains allocated to waste water treatment upgrades in County Limerick, as part of a push to improve rural sewerage networks and stave off the threat of prosecution by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The poor state of much of County Limerick’s sewerage treatment facilities has been flagged as far back as 2009, when a water services report by Limerick County Council outlined the need for over €200 million in investment in order to bring waste water schemes in line with regulations.

In his response to Mr O’Donovan, Minister Hogan said that the Department of Environment are still awaiting a response from the county council on “a number of issues raised” in a preliminary report on the proposed €2.6 million new Askeaton sewerage scheme.

In April of this year, Limerick County Council’s head of water and road services, Paul Crowe, said that an initial report on the Askeaton scheme was submitted to the department in 2008 and was updated last year. However, he said that so long as the local authority is waiting for responses from the department, “the approval for the Askeaton scheme has not yet been forthcoming”.

Minister Hogan added that a revised report on the Dromcollogher sewerage scheme is due to be submitted to his department in the near future for approval. In the 2009 report, Dromcollogher was ranked second only to Kilmallock in terms of priority for investment, as “very significant “ effluent discharge into the local Ahavarragha river was found to be 67 times over the regulated limit.

An upgrade to the existing treatment plant in Abbeyfeale, meanwhile, is at the planning stage and the Minister said that the county council’s initial brief “is being examined in my department and will be dealt with as quickly as possible”.

A contract for the upgrade of the Kilmallock plant was signed earlier this year and work is currently under way, the Minister added.

“The water services investment programme 2010-2013 provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Limerick”, Minister Hogan said.

“The programme consists of contracts under construction and to commence to the value of some €29 million in the county during the period of the programme,” he added.