In January 2012, new legislation to alleviate the problem of poor ground water quality was introduced with the enactment of The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012. Under the new legislation, homeowners are required to comply with a series of regulations with regard to their domestic waste water treatment systems such as septic tanks.

Approximately 1/3 of all homes are serviced by a septic tank whose function is to collect, treat and discharge wastewater safely and effectively, and so this legislation will affect a large percentage of the population. One of the major requirements of the legislation specifies that, homeowners with domestic septic tanks are required to register it with the Local Authority and pay a registration fee. It is necessary to re-register your septic tank every five years but no additional fee will be charged. All new septic tanks must be registered within 90 days of connection.

Homeowners must also adhere to the following; 

  • You must be aware of the location of your septic tank. Consult site plans, drainage plan etc. to assist in determining its location.
  • You must operate and maintain your septic tank so that it works effectively and safely.
  • You must examine your septic tank at least once a year to ensure that it is not polluting the local environment by leaking wastewater into the ground or water sources.
  • You must desludge or empty your septic tank at regular intervals which are determined by the capacity of your tank and by the number of people resident at the property that it services. This work must be carried out by an authorised contractor and you must retain the receipt for the work carried out for at least five years.

In addition to these stipulations, homeowners with septic tanks will have their systems subjected to inspections by personnel from the Local Authority which are carried out free of charge. The purpose of these inspections is to ensure that the regulations are being adhered to and to ensure that your septic tank is in good working order. In order to assist them in this practice, each Local Authority has drafted a national register which will be combined to form one national register of septic tanks in Ireland. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a national inspection plan that will coordinate and oversee the inspection of all septic tanks.

Once your septic tank has been inspected, there may be no further action necessary on your part. Alternatively, you may have to address any issues with your septic tank that might have been raised by the inspection. You should note that there is grant assistance available from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government for homeowners whose septic tanks require remedial works following an inspection.

While this may seem a burden to some homeowners, it is important to realise that the regulations will ensure that septic tanks In Ireland are maintained and repaired where necessary preventing danger to human health and the environment.
photo credit: Sustainable sanitation via photopin cc

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