Review of first year of National Inspection Plan for septic tanks shows that almost half of household septic tanks fail inspection

Date released: Feb 03 2015

The EPA today released a review of the implementation of the National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems 2013, for the period 1st July 2013 – 30th June 2014. The National Inspection Plan is being implemented by local authorities under the supervision of the EPA. 

The review of the period 1st July 2013 to 30th June 2014 found that:

  • 987 inspections were carried out by local authority inspectors.
  • 52 per cent of domestic waste water treatment systems passed inspection.
  • More than half the failures were due to lack of de-sludging.
  • 79 per cent of the inspected systems are now compliant with the regulations, following remediation work by householders.
  • Advice to assist householders in maintaining their domestic waste water treatment systems is available through local authority leaflets and websites. Extensive information for homeowners is also available on the EPA Website.

Gerard O’Leary, Director, EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said,

“The inspections have, for the first time, allowed for the systematic collection of information on the condition of domestic waste water treatment systems in Ireland.  The results show that many of the failures could have been prevented. Inspections are now a routine part of local authority work”

David Flynn, Programme Manager of EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement advised,

“There are simple steps that homeowners can take, have the sludge emptied from your tank on a regular basis using a permitted contractor, retain the receipt, and if you have a package treatment system it needs a regular scheduled service.”

The EPA now invites submissions on the proposals for the next Plan, which is proposed to cover the period 2015-2017. 

These proposals are contained in Chapter 6 of the review report published today.

Interested parties can make submissions by emailing or by post to National Inspection Plan 2015-2017 Consultation, EPA, McCumiskey House, Richview, Clonskeagh Road, Dublin 14 to arrive no later than 3rd March 2015.

The report National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems: A Review of the Period 1st July 2013 – 30th June 2014 & Consultation on Proposals for 2015-2017 is available now on the EPA website.

Notes to Editor:

The EPA is responsible for the development of a National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment System and co-ordination and reporting on the implementation of the Plan by the local authorities as provided for in the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012.

Section 70K. (3) of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 sets out the legislative requirements for reviewing the Plan.  In particular it provides that:

‘The Agency shall from time to time as it thinks appropriate, and at least once in each period of 5 years after the date of making the national inspection plan, review the plan and make such revisions thereto as it thinks fit and reference in this Part to such a plan, shall unless the context otherwise requires, be construed as including references to such a plan as so revised’.

The first Plan was published in February 2013 and covered a period from 1st July 2013 – 30th June 2014.  The Plan is delivered by Local Authorities and a minimum number of risk-based site inspections were allocated by the EPA for each county. 

The EPA has undertaken a review of the implementation of this first Plan, the results of which are published today. The primary purpose of the review is to ensure that the strategies implemented are successful and effective in protecting human health and the environment and allow for any modifications where these are deemed necessary.

The EPA plans to publish the 2nd Plan in early 2015, it proposes that this Plan will cover the period 2015-2017. Submissions from interested parties can be made to the EPA until the 3rd March 2015.

All local authorities and the EPA have made information available to the public on the inspection process and on maintenance of treatment systems on their websites.