Registration fee for septic tanks reduced to €5 for first 3 months

-Practical approach to inspections revealed by Hogan-

Speaking at a public meeting on the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary this evening (6.2.2012) the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Phil Hogan T.D. set out the Government’s proposals for the registration and inspection of septic tanks. He announced a reduced inspection fee for the first three months and outlined the practical approach that will be taken to the inspections. Minister Hogan said: ‘To act as an incentive for owners to register early, I have decided to set the registration fee at €5 instead of the proposed €50 for the first three months. I would encourage people to register before the 30th June 2012 and avail of the lower fee.’ The deadline for registration is March 2013.

“This legislation has been deliberately framed to minimise the impact on householders who can be assured that if their systems are working properly and are being maintained the impact of the new system will be minor. We are adopting a very practical approach to the inspection guidelines. Once my Department’s consultation with the EPA and the European Commission has been completed, I will formally announce the guidelines in two weeks which will be followed by a four week public consultation period.”

“Today I am in a position to announce some of the practical standards that will be included in the guidelines. Septic tanks and waste-water treatment systems must be operational and maintained and the guidelines will outline some very simple and obvious examples of risks of a deficient treatment system. For example, is it leaking waste water or effluent? Or is it causing ponds of waste water to collect on the surface of the ground?”

Practical operational requirements that will be included in the guidelines:

Ensuring that roof water or surface water run-off is not allowed enter the treatment system;
That grey-water from washing machines and sinks is being treated in the system;
Are the pipe-works and vents of a system blocked or obstructed;
Are manhole covers and other components of the system of good working order or sealed where appropriate;
Any mechanical or electrical components of the system, for example pumps or alarms, are fit for purpose;
Recommendations will be included regarding the frequencies with which systems should be emptied or de-sludged.

“The risk-based system of inspections will commence in 2013 and will be objective and evidence-based, i.e. unless there is evidence of endangerment of human health or the environment, the system in place will pass inspection. There is no question of applying the EPA’s 2009 Code of Practice to older on-site systems.”

“Following over 30 hours of debate in the House of Oireachtas, the President signed into law the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 last week. This Legislation has been introduced for three reasons:

1. Non-compliance with EU legislation: On 29 October 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland in relation to the treatment of waste waters from septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems. The enactment of this legislation is a critical element in Ireland’s defence against the imposition of hefty fines by the Court.

2. Protect ground water in rural Ireland: The key objective of the new legislation is to enhance and protect public health and the environment which will, in turn, benefit rural dwellers in terms of a better quality of life and better quality water. Responsibility for protection of public health and the environment applies to everyone, whether living in urban or rural areas. Environmental and health issues must be dealt with as circumstances dictate and where risks exist.

3. Protect jobs: The provision of a continuous supply of clean water is a fundamental requirement for the economy. High quality water and security of supply is vital to attract foreign direct investment, high-end employment, and meet the needs and demands of our existing businesses and communities.”

“No-one should have any difficulty with these common-sense requirements, after all, if a septic tank is leaking or causing waste water to pond on the surface, the most immediate risk is posed to the health of the owner of the system and of his family and neighbours.”

Under the legislation anyone who owns a septic tank or a waste-water treatment system needs to register before March 2013. After the 4 week public consultation period has been completed and the regulations have been published, a registration system will be in place by 31 March 2012. There will be an on-line registration system and a facility for written registration also.

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