Septic Tank Legislation
The Water Services Act 2007 has been introduced to make Ireland compliant with a European Court of Justice ruling in October 2009 where the Court found that Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations regarding domestic waste waters.
Some Important Figures
€50 Registration Fee* to be paid by the property owner to register their Septic Tank every 5 years. The revenue from the fee will be used to defray the costs of the water services authority and insure there are no Exchequer or staffing implications arising.
Under the legislation anyone who owns a Septic Tank or a waste-water treatment system needs to register. Householders can now register their treatment system.
How to Register:
Online: www.protectourwater.ie – by credit card/debit card.
By Post: Registration forms are available online;
City/County Councils; Libraries; Citizen Information Centres or Lo Call 1890 800 800.
What happens if you don’t register?
If you don’t register your system by the 1st February, 2013, you are committing an offence. Local authorities will be responsible for following-up cases of non-compliance. The maximum penalty for an individual who commits an offence under the legislation is a fine of €5,000.
Inspection of Septic Tanks
- Why are they being carried out?
Inspections are being carried out to make sure that Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (DWWTSs) do not pose a risk to human health or the environment. Owners of DWWTSs are obliged to properly operate and maintain their systems as required under the Water Services Act, 2007 and Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012. (http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2012/en/act/pub/0002/
- How many inspections will be carried out and will I be inspected?
Local authorities will determine the areas where inspections will be carried out at a local basis. They will use the risk information and locations of sensitive receptors such as bathing waters and drinking water supplies to prioritise the areas of inspection. If you want to know the risk category for your area you can access the EPA’s ENVISON GIS maps
.The local authority will write to you 10 days in advance of any inspection. You cannot request an inspection by the local authority. There is no fee for the first inspection carried out by the local authority.
- Who will inspect the system?
Inspectors will be local authority employees and be appointed as inspectors by the EPA once they meet the criteria set out in the legislation. The EPA maintains a list of appointed inspectors.Householders should not allow any person to enter their property to examine their DWWTS unless they have received prior notification in writing from their local authority that their system is to be inspected. Any person claiming to be from a local authority should be asked for official identification.
- When will the inspections commence?
Inspections commenced in 2013.
- What will be inspected?
The inspections are intended to find out if your DWWTS poses a risk to you and your family’s health and the environment. They will consist of a visual check to make sure that the DWWTS is not leaking nor has an unauthorised discharge, that it is properly operated and maintained and that it has been emptied of excess sludge when required.
- Will I get a copy of the inspection report?
Yes you will receive a copy of the inspection report within 21 days of the inspection.
- What happens if my Septic Tank (treatment system) fails an inspection?
If your Septic Tank fails the inspection you will be notified immediately by the Inspector, a copy of the inspection report will issue to you within 21 days and it will be accompanied by an Advisory Notice, which sets out the reason for the non-compliance and advises what next steps you need to take.If you are not satisfied with the inspection report you may request a re-inspection by paying the €20.00 re-inspection fee.
- Where should my septic waste be disposed of?
All septic tank waste should be disposed of at an authorised facility. A certificate of authorised disposal should be furnished.
Maintenance of System
Owners must maintain their treatment systems so that they do not pose a risk to human health or the environment and in particular not to:
- create a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, cause a nuisance through odours, or
- cause pollution to the countryside or places of special interest — these include Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Natural Heritage Areas.
The Department of Environment have stated that here is no question of imposing modern standards, for example those set out in the EPA’s 2009 Code of Practice, to older systems. Nor is there any question of householders having to acquire additional land to facilitate remediation work. Where an on-site system fails an inspection, the remediation work required will be based on factors such as the nature of the problem, the extent of risk to public health or the environment, existing site size and the hydrological and geological conditions present.
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