ROI Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy announced today (15th December) he would increase the level of grant support for users of private wells, with details to be published in the coming weeks.

The announcement came as he presented the details of new subsidies for Group Water Schemes, increasing the maximum support per household from €140 to €231 among other measures.

Group Water Schemes are established where a public water supply is not available, and can be formed by two or more households coming together to provide their own common water supply. The group elects trustees to act on behalf of its members in dealings with the local authority.

Grants are currently available for both Group Water Schemes and private wells. These options are only open to those not on the public water mains route; currently 20 per cent of ROI water supplies are privately managed, half of which consists of wells for rural houses.

The Individual Supply Grant scheme for wells is for houses that are more than seven years old, not connected to either a public or a group scheme, and the works costs more than €635, among other requirements.

You can get up to €2,031.58 (or 75% of the cost of the work, whichever is the lesser) to provide a new water supply or to upgrade an existing one. Only one grant per house is allowed in any 10-year period.

The kind of work eligible for the grant is the drilling of a new well or the provision of essential pumping or water filtration/disinfection equipment. Applications are made via local authorities.

The Minister said: “Serious challenges remain in relation to rural water services, including in the areas of water quality (in small private supplies, private wells and group water schemes), future management of group water schemes and sustainable management of septic tanks. In this context, my Department will initiate a short, focused review of the wider investment needs relating to rural water services, including the overall approach to funding group water schemes, early next year. Any new measures will support the programmes of measures in the finalised River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021, which I plan on publishing early next year.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, private wells recorded the poorest compliance to E.coli standards at 94.8 per cent.

The Institute of Geologists of Ireland (IGI) has guidelines for drilling private wells. When drilled the well must be sealed, disinfected and the water tested. The IGI also has guidelines on Water well construction.

Pollution issues must be reported to your local authority which can prosecute those responsible under the Local Government (Water Pollution Act) 1977.