The Practical Approach Taken to the Draft Septic Tank Standards will Protect Groundwater – Hogan
Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (1 March 2012), published the draft performance standards for septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems. “I gave a commitment in the Dáil, during the debates on the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, that I would publish the draft standards for the operation and maintenance of domestic waste water treatment systems for a public consultation process. The practical approach taken by my Department, in consultation with the EPA, won’t only protect groundwater, but will actually enhance our water quality. Members of the public now have an opportunity to consider these draft standards for the next four weeks and following that I will finalise the regulations to give effect to the standards” the Minister said.
“The draft standards set out the responsibilities of owners of septic tanks and other systems including requirements for the removal of sludge and ensuring the system is in working order and properly functioning. As I said during the course of the debate on the bill, if householders are meeting the requirements of these standards and their systems are not causing pollution, they have nothing to worry about” said the Minister. “It is important that householders are aware of the location of their system and that they carry out a visual examination of their system at least once a year to ensure there is no evidence that it is causing pollution.”
Environmental and economic spin-offs
Minister Hogan added “Implementation of the new legislation is necessary not only to comply with the European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland in October 2009 and our obligations under the EU Waste Directive, but most importantly, to protect public health and the environment, particularly water quality. Having good quality water resources will also be an important factor in helping to attract new inward investment to support and create employment in local communities in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and ICT.”
“The principal and immediate beneficiaries of the new legislation will be the householders, their families and their neighbours as it enhances the protection of groundwater, which is the source of drinking water for many people in rural Ireland. It will also help to enhance Ireland’s environmental reputation which in turn will have positive benefits for the tourism, agricultural and food producing sectors” the Minister said.
Summary of the key draft standards:
1. Know where your tank is located;
2. Visually examine your tank every year;
3. Ensure only domestic waste water is treated in your tank;
4. Ensure your tank only discharges from those points for which it was designed to discharge from;
5. Ensure the effluent is not discharged to or does not rise to the surface of the ground;
6. Ensure your tank is not discharging into streams/ditches;
7. Desludge your tank when necessary, using an authorised waste collector;
8. Ensure that your tank is not polluting and operation and maintenance is in compliance with the manufacturer’s manual, as appropriate.
“If, as part of the inspection, a problem is detected, the inspector from the local authority will identify a practical and pragmatic solution to the problem to ensure your system is no longer polluting the environment or is a threat to public health.”
The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 provides for the establishment of a registration system for domestic waste water treatment systems.
“I recently announced that there would be an initial €5 registration charge for the first three months to encourage householders to register. Following that period, the registration charge will be €50. The registration system is currently being developed and is expected to be ready in mid April. I will announce full details of how people can register after the conclusion of this consultation process.”
The Environmental Protection Agency will be developing a National Inspection Plan which will be implemented by the local authorities. The Plan will provide for a risk-based approach to inspections to identify on-site systems which are causing pollution. Inspections will commence in 2013. The Plan will be completed by the end of this year and details of how and where inspections will take place will be made available thereafter. Householders, particularly elderly or other vulnerable people, should not allow any person enter their property to examine their septic tank 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 also be asked for official identification.
There is no fee for inspections.
“I have stated on a number of occasions that I will keep under review the need to provide financial support to households whose systems are deemed, following inspection, to require substantial remediation. The need for any such support will only become clearer when inspections are being carried out.”
The standards will be finalised after submissions made on foot of the public consultation process have been considered. The standards will then be incorporated into Regulations to be made under Section 70L of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 and will thereby be underpinned by statute. Minister Hogan stated “The draft standards have been prepared by my Department in consultation with the EPA and the local authorities. The draft standards take a common sense approach and do not make unreasonable demands on the owners of on-site waste water treatment systems. The key objective is to protect public health and the environment and I would encourage all interested parties to read the consultation document and, if they have any views, to make a submission to my Department.”
The draft standards are available to view and download from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s website: www.environ.ie. The closing date for receipt of submissions is 4 pm on Friday, 30 March, 2012.
Submissions in relation to the draft standards can be made by email to [email protected] or, in writing, to the address below.
Domestic Waste Water Systems – Consultations,
Water Services Policy Section,
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government,
Please note that all submissions and comments submitted to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for this purpose are subject to release under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003.
Contact Yvonne Hyland 086 850 8879
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