It is imperative that the recommendations in relation to Group Water Schemes outlined in the report of the Special Oireachtas Committee on Water and the in the Expert Report of the Commission on Water.
It is not good enough that many low income households in Rural Ireland have to continue to pay twice for water. In Sinn Féin’s alternative budget last year we set aside €1.5 million to achieve this equality between those on group water schemes and on public schemes. “The Minister has said that he will find the €170 million needed for refunds. Addressing the funding shortfall for group water schemes will cost a fraction of that.
Group schemes receive an annual subsidy of only €70 per household but that does not cover the full cost of accessing the water supply. Those on public water supplies and who are currently customers of Irish Water do not pay an annual charge for accessing that water supply. “Equity would mean that the state would cover the full annual cost of group water scheme users accessing that water supply.
The submission of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes to the special committee showed the experience and extraordinary voluntary effort that goes into every scheme. “There is also a need for a properly timed programme to be put in place to facilitate the take-over of the schemes that request to be taken over. This is currently taking far too long and schemes are left in abeyance as to when the necessary upgrades and take-overs will happen.
Sinn Féin is not prepared to let the situation continue whereby those on Group Water Schemes are treated like second class citizens.