Wastewater legislation for single houses

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions which may help explain the impact of the legislation.  The information is based on what we know to date and we will continue to update and add to this section as information becomes available.

Why has legislation on domestic wastewater treatment systems been changed?

The European Court of Justice has ruled that countries must comply with certain standards and procedures, such as inspections, to ensure that public health and the environment are protected.

Poorly constructed or operated on-site wastewater treatment systems (including septic tanks) for single houses can result in sewage contaminating drinking water supplies or ponding on land, presenting a risk to human health as well as the environment.

Who has to register under the domestic wastewater treatment systems legislation?

All homeowners that have domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTS) are required to register their systems with the local authority where the DWWTS are located.

 

However, owners of properties connected to larger on-site systems where the discharge is in excess of 5 cubic metres per day do not need to register (i.e sports clubs, pubs, hotels, guesthouses and other businesses).  Instead such systems may require a licence from the relevant local authority under Section 4 of the Water Pollution Act 1997. 

 

To register please go to www.protectourwater.ie

 

If my house shares a domestic waste water treatment system with one or more houses, who is required to register?

In the situation where more than one house shares a domestic waste water treatment system, each individual household must register.

How do I register and with whom?

Owners of domestic waste water treatment systems are required to register their systems with their water services authority.  They can register online, by post or at your local authority office.

Online - www.protectourwater.ie - by credit card/debit card.

By Post:Registration forms are available online; from City/County Councils; Libraries; Citizen Information Centres or Lo Call 1890 800 800.

Payment can be made by cheque, postal order or bank draft and made payable to “Protect Our Water". Send your form with payment to: Protect Our Water, P.O Box 12204, Dublin 7.

Local Authority Offices:Payment by credit or debit card or by cheque, postal order, bank draft or cash can be made in your City or County Council office (no administration fee will be charged by the Council for this).

Do I have to pay anything to register?

A once off registration fee of €50.00 is payable to cover the costs of administration by the WSA and of the risk based inspection.

Having registered and paid my fee, is my septic tank going to be inspected?

The legislation requires the EPA to develop a ‘National Inspection Plan’.   A risk based approach is beiing used to select sites for inspection.  What that means is that the areas at most risk of contamination of groundwater, surface water or human health are more likely to be inspected first.  The risk maps are available to view at http://gis/epa.ie/Envision/.

 

What will happen if I don’t register or pay?
A person who fails to produce a valid certificate of registration commits an offence and can be fined.
Is there a deadline for registration?

All existing DWWTS should have registered by the 1st February 2013, if you have not registered already you may still do so, see www.protectourwater.ie for more information.

All new developments where a DWWTS is constructed or installed shall ensure that the system is registered with the WSA within 90 days of connection of the premises to the DWWTS (S.I. 180 of 2013).

If my septic tank is to be inspected who will carry out the inspection?

An appropriately qualified and EPA registered inspector. A list of authorised inspectors will be made available in due course. The local authority will inform you in advance if you have been selected for inspection. Inspections are due to commence in July 2013.

What will the inspector be looking for?
The inspector will carry out a visual inspection of the domestic wastewater treatment system. They will be checking to see that the system is being operated and maintained properly and is not posing a risk to human health or the environment.
Do I have to be there when the inspection is being carried out?

No access to the house itself will be required. The local authority will advise you of the inspection in advance.

Will I know if my septic tank has been inspected?
The inspector will be required to inform you of the findings of their inspection.
What happens if the inspection shows that there is a problem with my septic tank?
You are required to maintain and operate your septic tank or domestic wastewater treatment system in a manner that does not cause a risk to human health or the environment. If problems are found during the inspection the local authority may require you to carry out specific improvements to your system. 
If improvement works are required, who will pay?

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has announced a grant scheme for those who fail an inspection.  More details may be obtained for the DECLG's website - grant information.

How do I become an inspector?

The Minister has made regulations regarding the appointment of inspectors (S.I. No. 384 of 2012).  The regulations state tha the EPA shall appoint a person to inspect DWWTS if:

  • the applicant has attained a qualification at level 8 in the National Framework of Qualifications or equivalent, such qualification to be in construction, engineering or science disciplines, or, where such qualification is not attained, the Agency, having considered the qualifications and professional experience of the person by reference to the functions to be performed by an inspector for the purposes of the Act is satisfied that the person is suitably competent for appointment as an inspector, and
  • it is satisfied that the applicant has successfully completed a training course provided by the Local Authority Services National Training Group in relation to the inspection of domestic waste water treatment systems,
  • the applicant is indemnified by the relevant water services authority in accordance with Section 29 of the Act.
What are the performance standards that septic tanks and domestic wastewater treatment systems have to meet?

The Minister has published new regulations (Performance Standards S.I. No 223 of 2012) governing the operation and maintenance for domestic wastewater treatment systems.   

What role does the EPA Code of Practice 2009 have to play in relation to existing houses?

The standards in the Code of Practice: Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Houses 2009 (CoP) apply to all new developments. They do not strictly apply to existing houses, however, where problems arise improvements may be necessary in line with best practice as outlined in the code. The local authority may allow variations to the CoP when it is satisfied that the proposed improvements will reduce the impact on human health and the environment.

The Code of Practice is available to download at http://www.epa.ie/downloads/advice/water/wastewater/code%20of%20practice%20for%20single%20houses/#d.en.27967.

Do I have to register my domestic waste water treatment system (DWWTS) if the discharge is subject to a discharge licence under the Water Pollution Acts?

All homeowners that have domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTS) are required to register their systems with the local authority where the DWWTS are located.

However, owners of properties connected to larger on-site systems where the discharge is in excess of 5 cubic metres per day do not need to register (i.e sports clubs, pubs, hotels, guesthouses and other businesses).  Instead such systems require a licence from the relevant local authority under Section 4 of the Water Pollution Act 1997.