The Chief Executive of Water Service (Mrs Katharine Bryan) has written to the noble Lord in response to this question.
Letter from Mrs Katharine Bryan to Lord Laird
You recently asked Her Majesty's Government a Parliamentary Question, further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 17 January (WA 167) concerning the sewerage system at Springfield, County Fermanagh, what are the criteria for economic feasibility [HL1484]. I have been asked to reply as this issue falls within my responsibility as chief executive of Water Service.
Under current legislation, Water Service has a duty to provide water and sewerage services but is not required to do anything which is not practicable at a reasonable cost. For this reason, Water Service has always operated a policy of reasonable cost allowances for the purpose of determining what is practicable at reasonable cost. The reasonable cost allowances for sewerage schemes are £4,000 for each house occupied before May 2000 and £2,300 for all other houses. The policy provides Water Service with an objective mechanism to consider applications for new water and sewerage services in a consistent and equitable manner. The policy seeks to strike a balance between the interests of householders and taxpayers, within the context of resources made available for water and sewerage services. If the cost of the scheme is more than the total reasonable cost allowance, the scheme cannot be provided at public expense alone and can proceed only if the property owners agree to meet the additional cost.
When an application was received in 2002 for a sewer extension covering eight properties at Springfield, it was estimated that it would cost £45,000 and the total reasonable cost allowance was assessed at £32,000. The applicant was advised that the scheme could proceed if the additional cost of £13,000 was met by the householders who would benefit, but the offer was not taken up.