23 October, 2009 - Minister O'Keeffe announces measures to keep schools' water bills down

Schools invited to seek funding for small-scale projects under 2010 Summer Works SchemeNew water conservation measures under next year's Summer Works Scheme will help schools cover metered water costs from January when they'll have to pay according to how much they use, according to the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD. The water conservation measures will be funded as part of the 2010 Summer Works Scheme covering small-scale school projects such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof replacements and repairs, window replacement, toilet upgrades, structural improvements and access works.  From January 1, full metered water charges will apply in schools, with each local authority setting its own rate.  Now, schools pay a fixed rate per pupil of €4 or the full metered rate if it's lower.  Local authorities will install the meters, although most schools already have them.Minister O'Keeffe announced a call for applications from schools today under the 2010 Summer Works Scheme.He said he would grant-aid the fitting of simple water-saving devices to toilets and wash-hand basins in schools.Minister O'Keeffe said: 'From January, all schools will be charged on the basis of how much water they use rather than how many pupils they have.'Meters will be fitted on the water supply to schools to measure use.'We're already using state-of-the-art water conservation design approaches in our new schools and new school extensions as part of the standard low-energy school designs.'Now, I want to focus on existing buildings and to minimise insofar as we can the impact of the new metering system on schools' budgets. 'Simple and straightforward measures can minimise excess water consumption and reduce waste.'It has been shown that fitting simple water-saving devices to toilets and wash-hand basins can reduce water consumption considerably. 'The quiet summer months are an ideal time to carry out this type of work so that disruption to the school term can be avoided.'I'll fund the whole cost of carrying out the works approved under the scheme,' said Minister O'Keeffe.Since 2004, over 4,000 small-scale building projects have been carried out in schools at cost of almost €380 million.'The Summer Works Scheme has been very popular with schools because they can prioritise the works they need.'I'd remind schools that it's essential they get the best possible value for money on projects in the more competitive construction market.  'My announcement of a Summer Works Scheme for next year will generate much-needed employment in the construction sector in these challenging times for the country,' he said.  The money available for the Summer Works Scheme will be considered in the context of the Budget estimates process.Full details on the Summer Works Scheme are available to download hereApplcation forms are available to download hereA helpline number - 1800 200 955 - can help schools with their applications. Further information on water conservation for schools is available to download hereThe closing date for applications is November 27, 2009.Note: Below are two simple indicative examples of how these measures will affect schools' water bills from January 1, 2009. Indicative examples (based on Cork County Council metering rates)
A 240-pupil primary school using 19 litres of water per pupil per day would have an annual water bill of €960.This is based on pay a fixed rate per pupil of €4 - the current method of calculating water charges. Water use in such a school would be considered average. Under the metering system effective from January 1, that school would be billed for €1,909.40 per annum based on 2009 water rates of €2.16 per cubic metre and water meter charges of €95 per annum.Fitting devices to conserve water and applying good water management practice could reduce the school's water consumption from 19 litres to 11 litres.Therefore, the school's water bill could be €1,137 per annum.That's a reduction of €772.40 as a direct result of fitting water conservation devices under the 2010 Summer Works Scheme. A 500-pupil post-primary school using 15 litres of water per pupil per day would have a water bill of €2,000. This is based on pay a fixed rate per pupil of €4 - the current method of calculating water charges. Water use in such a school would be considered average. Under the metering system, that school would be billed for €2,800.00 per annum based on 2009 water rates of €2.16 per cubic metre and water meter charges of €95 per annum.Fitting devices to conserve water and applying good water management practice could reduce the school's water consumption from 15 litres to 11 litres per pupil.Therefore, the school's water bill could be €2,078.96.That's a reduction of €721.04 as a direct result of fitting water conservation devices under the 2010 Summer Works Scheme.Examples of water conservation devices are urinal controls to reduce flushing frequency; self-closing push taps; and cistern dams to reduce the effective size of the toilet cistern.
ENDS