Wednesday, 20 April 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Crawford: I thank you, Sir, for giving me the opportunity to raise this important issue. I thank the Minister of State for coming in to reply. With your permission, Sir, I wish to share my time with my constituency colleague, Deputy Leonard.
Mr. Crawford: Monaghan town has a population of up to 7,000 people and water rationing has occurred in the past nine years. For up to six months during the summer period, the water supply to large sections of the town could be cut from 12 midnight to 7 a.m. This obviously causes enormous problems for the people affected and for factory production. Naturally it also has implications for our hotels and guesthouses when we are trying to promote our tourism industry.
The recent serious and tragic fires in Kerry have highlighted the possibility of a serious outbreak of fire during the night and the fire brigade would be hindered by a lack of water at this time. It must be remembered that many of the buildings in the town are old and would ignite easily.
Water is supplied to Monaghan town from three sources — the main source  being the Corcaghan Lakes through the Togan treatment works, which is capable of supplying 60 to 70 per cent of the town's requirements. The second supply is from deep wells located at St. Davnet's hospital grounds. This is a hard water supply and naturally causes many difficulties within the system. The third source of supply is from Lambes Lake, which is unfiltered and virtually untreated. It is very difficult for the authorities to assure high quality water from a combination of all three sources.
Will the Minister give a commitment that he will provide the finance to test the sources of water from the Bragan Mountains, where there seem to be high quality underwater supplies available? A local group water scheme has used this source for many years and this water is of extremely high quality.
Monaghan Urban District Council has drilled test wells in the region but they need to do much more extensive trials. Then, of course, the Minister must give a commitment to provide the necessary finance to bring this much needed water to Monaghan town.
It is essential that a portion of the much heralded European funds be committed to this absolutely necessary and long overdue project. The Minister is aware that a very extensive and much needed waste water treatment plant has been provided which will service factories and the tourism industry, which in turn will create jobs in the region. Unfortunately, however, unless the water is improved, the present plant cannot hope to reach its full potential.
Water from the Togan treatment works could be transferred to other areas. There is a very fine water supply in Kilkitt in the middle of the county and if the water cannot be supplied from one source close to Monaghan town moneys should be provided to bring water from Kilkitt. The Monaghan town water supply is smelly, to put it mildly, and people want the problem addressed urgently.
Mr. Leonard: I thank Deputy Crawford for sharing his time with me. As far  back as 1975 the North Eastern Regional Development Organisation carried out a survey on housing, roads, sewerage and water in the four towns in the county and their hinterlands. Since that time housing has been satisfactory and urban roads are much better than roads in rural areas, a new treatment plant has been built at a cost of £6 million and the Minister for the Environment will perform its official opening next Friday. However, the water supply remains a matter of contention. At that time there was no surplus capacity and they recommended planned expansion by bore hole augmentation. As Deputy Crawford said, the town is supplied from three sources, the Togan treatment plant, the original source, a bore hole at Rooskey and water from Lambes Lake.
As soon as money becomes available from the operational programme I ask that it be set aside for this purpose. We have been told that the Department requires further exploratory bore holes in Knockatallon, but I question that because the urban district council as well as a group water scheme had opened exploratory bore holes and there seemed to be a plentiful supply of safe water. My area is served by an underground water supply.
I believe we have adequate information to proceed. County Monaghan has many sources, including the Lough Egish scheme which received funding of £4 million from the EC in addition to £1.5 million from the county council, the Lake Muckno source, the subject of litigation, as well as the Knockatallon bore holes, Emy Lake and the Derrygooney Lake chain. The Department should make an all out effort because 37.5 per cent of the industry in the county is based in Monaghan town and its hinterland. I appeal to the Minister of State to ask the Minister for the Environment to provide the moneys to proceed with this project.
 I am aware of the importance attached to the Monaghan water supply scheme. The project, which is estimated to cost £8.5 million, involves the development of production bores together with associated storage, treatment and transmission lines to deliver water to Monaghan town. There are no proposals to supply Monaghan town from the Kilkitt scheme but tenders for the development of production bores at Knockatallon in north Monaghan have been received in my Department. However, in common with many other worthwhile proposals around the country, it has not been possible to provide financing for it up to now due to the pressure of other priority schemes within the water and sanitary services programme.
As the Deputies will be aware, considerable progress has been made in the provision of water and sewerage infrastructure in County Monaghan. In the 1989-93 period over £9 million of Exchequer and EU finance has been invested in important projects, including sewerage works at Carrickmacross, Smithboro, Newbliss, Rockcorry and a flood relief scheme in Monaghan town. This coming Friday, the Minister, Deputy Smith, will be in Monaghan to officially open a modern, sophisticated treatment plant facility for Monaghan town which has been completed at a cost of over £7 million. I suggest that the Deputies should have a word with the Minister on that occasion.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): Work is well advanced within the framework of the National Development Plan on the water and sewerage programme for the period 1994-99. The determination of priorities under this programme will take account of a wide range of factors, including the need to meet our obligations under the urban waste water and drinking water directives and the requirements of industry and the tourism sector.
Until this process is completed, it will not be possible to indicate the schemes  which will get to construction in the next few years. I will keep both Deputies informed of the position in relation to the Monaghan water scheme in this regard.
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