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EPA Welcomes New Septic Tank Grant Scheme

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) welcomes new septic tank grant scheme, as over 50% of systems fail inspection.

Polluted state of the River Suir, in Thurles Town Centre, Co. Tipperary, which Thurles Municipal District Councillors have tolerated for years and continue to do so.
  • There are an estimated half a million septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Half of the 1,160 septic tank systems inspected in 2019 failed.
  • Householders with private wells are particularly vulnerable to pollution from faulty septic tanks.
  • 27% of systems that failed inspections during 2013-2019 are still not fixed.
  • The Government’s expanded septic tank grant scheme will now help more householders fix faulty systems.

The Environmental Protection Agency today reported on 1,160 Local Authority inspections of septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems in 2019. The EPA found that more than half of the systems failed inspection. A lack of maintenance and desludging was identified as a key issue. The Local Authorities identified more serious issues with nearly 300 systems, where they were found to be a risk to human health or the environment.

The EPA also reported that the grant scheme for septic tanks has recently been expanded to cover specific areas where work is being focused to improve water quality under the national River Basin Management Plan. This means that more people will qualify for a grant.

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, putting your health at risk and that of your family and neighbours. It may also pollute your local stream or river. You can take simple steps to maintain your septic tank by cleaning it out regularly and by making sure it is not leaking, ponding or discharging to ditches. The Government’s expanded septic tank grant scheme broadens the availability of grants and increases the maximum grant available which is welcomed.”

The EPA also found that 27% of systems that failed inspections during 2013-2019 are still not fixed and Local Authorities need to take action to make sure householders fix systems that fail.

Mr Noel Byrne (EPA Senior Inspector) stated; “It is important that householders fix systems where problems are detected and be aware that they can pose a serious health risk. While there has been an improvement in the number of systems fixed, there are still many systems where faults are not addressed over a number of years. This requires increased engagement and enforcement by Local Authorities to address remaining failures”.

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