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A new regime for inspecting domestic wastewater treatment systems (or better known as septic tanks) has been established in Ireland. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the development of the National Plan and it published the first National Inspection plan 2013: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems in February 2013.
The aim of the Plan is to protect human health and water from the risks posed by domestic waste water treatment systems by using a two-strand approach of education and awareness strategies linked with a risk-based inspection process.
The Plan is delivered by Local Authorities and the number of inspections for each county is allocated on a risk basis. 'Risk-based' means putting resources where the risks are greatest to human health and the environment. The Plan focuses particularly on areas where the potential risk to public health and valuable water resources is higher.
New regulations (S.I. No. 223 of 2012) governing the operation and maintenance of domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTSs) require owners of DWWTS to operate and maintain their systems and this includes de-sludging. All domestic wastewater treatment systems require ongoing maintenance to ensure that the septic tank/treatment plant operates effectively and that solids do not enter the percolation area and clog the distribution pipe work.
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 from the initial inspection show that many of the failures could have been prevented.
The EPA has recently published the second National Inspection Plan 2015-2017: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems, which covers a three year period. Progress on implementation will be reported by the EPA on an annual basis.
The most recent report on implementation is found here.
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