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Local Authorities Failing To Enforce Repairs To Rural Septic Tanks

Malfunctioning septic tank systems are posing a risk to both people’s health and the environment, with nearly half of septic tank systems failing inspection in 2017 and 2018.

The EPA is responsible for the development of a National Inspection Plan for domestic waste water treatment systems. The current plan covers 2018-2021. Under the plan, local authorities are required to undertake a minimum of 1,000 inspections each year, distributed by risk across the country.

Domestic waste water treatment systems are used by rural householders to treat sewage. There are nearly half a million systems in Ireland and most (90%) are septic tanks.

Householders needs / must fix malfunctioning septic tank systems and the Government’s proposed expanded septic tank grant scheme is therefore welcome as part of addressing this serious issue.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released a review of over 2,000 inspections of septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems in 2017 and 2018. Nearly half of the systems failed inspection because they were not built or maintained properly. Faulty systems can contaminate household wells and pollute rivers. Householders should now avail of the proposed expanded grant scheme, when it becomes available, to address the problem of malfunctioning septic tanks.

Commenting on the report, Dr. Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement stated, “If you do not maintain your septic tank, it can contaminate your own or your neighbour’s well or your local stream, putting your health at risk and that of your family and neighbours. You can take simple steps to maintain your septic tank by making sure it is not leaking, ponding or discharging to ditches and by cleaning it out regularly.”

The report also found that nearly one third of systems that failed inspections during 2013-2018 are still not fixed. Local authorities need to take appropriate measures to ensure householders fix systems that fail the ongoing inspections.

Mr Noel Byrne, Senior Scientist in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement stated, “It is important that householders fix systems where problems are detected. To improve water quality, the government’s proposed expanded septic tank grant scheme, due to be launched later this year, will increase the maximum grant aid available to €5000 and remove the means test requirements.”

For further information: Contact Niamh Hatchell/ Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office Tel: 053-9170770.

See “Inspections of Septic Tanks” HERE also

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