Councils must help schools to reduce water charges says McNelis

Galway schools face massive increases in water charges next year so it is vital that the Galway city and county councils help schools reduce their water consumption.

This is the view of Labour Party councillor Niall McNelis, who said schools must be informed of how “simple changes” in water usage can result in “big savings” and more money for the school and its pupils.

January 1 2010 will see the start of metered water charging in every school across the State and based on a Labour Party survey of charges in each local authority area, schools could face an average increase of 100 per cent in their water bills.

At present, schools are charged a flat rate of €4 per pupil per year. In a typical primary school of 250 pupils, this would work out at €1,000 per year. Once metered water charges are introduced, schools could face an average cost of €2,005 a year.

“The Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe has repeatedly told schools to make their capitation grants stretch further,” said Cllr McNelis. “This is just one example of where schools will have to face higher costs but with no extra help from the Government to cover the cost. There were no increases in the capitation grants for schools in last Wednesday’s Budget.”

Cllr McNelis said the Department of Education estimates each pupil uses an average 3.5 cubic metres of water a year, but that 2.1 cubic metres should be best practice.

“Even if best practice is achieved, the average charge for a school is still likely to be €1,203 per year,” he said. “That’s an average increase of 20 per cent on the 2009 flat rate and still a big increase in costs to schools.”

He said the Galway City Council’s Slow The Flow campaign must be “stepped up” to ensure children understand the costs of flowing water

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