A TOTAL of 26 new water and sewerage contracts to the value of €44 million for County Kilkenny will commence between now and 2014. The news was given by Environment Minister Phil Hogan on Friday at the official opening of the new Thomastown Sewerage Scheme. He said that a further seven schemes and water conservation projects are included to advance through planning in the period.
Minister Hogan said the Thomastown scheme, which is a Serviced Land Initiative Scheme, had cost €2.3 million, and will cater to the needs of up to 8,000 homes.
Despite the present economic difficulties, he explained that it had been a priority of the Government to ensure that the maximum possible level of funding continued to be made available for essential infrastructure. “Proper treatment of wastewater is vital for all, from the domestic user to industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and fisheries to name but a few,” he said.
“We are privileged in Ireland in terms of the generally favourable ecological status of our water resources and the availability of raw water, but we should not be complacent. National and EU legislation requires enhanced management and treatment of our water and wastewater. In this regard, there has naturally been much discussion and debate surrounding the Government’s proposals for water sector reform,” he said.
He congratulated all who were involved in providing the scheme - the Chairwoman and elected members of the Council, the County Manager and his administrative and technical staff, together with the Consultants, TJ O’Connor & Associates and the Ovivo, who worked on the scheme.
Cathaoirleach, of the County Council, Cllr Marie Fitzpatrick, said that as County Kilkenny’s largest town outside of Kilkenny City, Thomastown’s importance could not be overstated.
“Located as it is, in the picturesque Nore Valley, adjacent to the M9 motorway and on main bus and rail lines, Thomastown is an ideal location for both business and residential uses – a fact which is recognised in both the Regional Planning Guidelines and in the National Spatial Strategy,” she said.
Towards the end of the last decade, development in Thomastown was stalled because of limited water supply and a lack of waste water treatment capacity. Thankfully, the water supply situation has improved dramatically, due to ongoing water conservation works – which will, in the next few months, be further enhanced by the replacement of 1.4 kilometre of deficient watermain on Station road. Coupled with this, planning for a new water supply source for Thomastown and Inistioge is at an advanced stage.
“Added to the improved water supply situation, we now have this very impressive waste water facility, which the Minister is officially opening today and which will provide for the waste water needs of Thomastown for the next 25 years, thereby doing its bit to help achieve our national obligations under the Water Framework Directive,” she said.
She pointed out that a project like the Thomastown one didn’t come about without lots of work from several people and of course funding. “This scheme, which cost €2.3 million was funded under the Serviced Land Initiative programme, 60% coming from Kilkenny County Council’s own funds, with the remaining 40% coming from the Department of the Environment, whose support and funding was vital to the project.
She gave special mention to the local Water Services Supervisor, Tom Hoyne and the Plant Caretaker Michael Tougher who kept the existing plant up and running during the construction of the new plant and who have the place in such pristine condition.
“Particular mention must be made of Dermot Druhan, who saw this plant through from inception and planning, right to final construction and commissioning. Well done Dermot,” she said.
And there was a humorous moment when Bennettbridge based councillor, Jane Galwey (FG) sportingly congratulated Thomastown based councillor, Sean Treacy (FF) on his club winning the All Ireland junior club title.