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Failure To Fix Tipperary Faulty Septic Tanks A Risk To Human Health.

Failure to fix faulty septic tanks is a risk to human health and the environment, and can’t continue, says Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • Local authorities completed 1,189 septic tank inspections in 2023, targeted near rivers and household drinking water wells, which are most at risk of contamination by faulty septic tanks.
  • 45% of septic tanks failed inspection. It is critically important that householders fix septic tanks that fail inspection as such failures have the potential to be a risk to human health and the environment.
  • Enforcement by local authorities is inconsistent and needs to improve, with Waterford, Roscommon and Kilkenny having the lowest rates of septic tank failures resolved.
  • Grants for fixing septic tanks have increased from €5,000 to €12,000.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the report on Domestic Waste Water Treatment System Inspections 2023, which details the findings of septic tank inspections completed by local authorities in 2023. Of the 1,189 septic tanks inspected, 45% (532) failed because they were not built or maintained properly.

Water Service Authority.Inspections Required 2023.Inspections Completed 2023.Systems Failing between 2013 & 2023. Percent Fixed 2023.
Co. Tipperary4040169only 72%

Comparisons: ‘Percent Fixed’ for Co. Louth was 98%, Co. Wicklow 97%, Fingal 97%, South Dublin 94%, Co. Longford 88%, Co. Cavan 89%, Co. Limerick 84% and Co. Cork 90%, leaving Co. Tipperary (shown on the above table) only moderately rated, when it comes to percentage of failures fixed.

Domestic waste water treatment systems, mostly septic tanks, are used by householders to treat sewage. There are nearly half a million systems in Ireland. The EPA’s National Inspection Plan 2022-2026 has identified the number of inspections that need to be completed, particularly near rivers and in areas where septic tanks are co-located with household drinking water wells. Local authorities are required to complete a minimum of 1,200 inspections annually as part of their implementation of the plan.

Commenting on the report, Dr Tom Ryan, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said, “Faulty septic tanks are a risk to human health and the environment and must be fixed. The EPA, through the National Inspection Plan, has identified rivers and areas where household drinking water wells are most at risk of contamination by faulty septic tanks. Local authority inspections are targeted in these areas. It is critical that householders protect their family’s health and the environment by fixing the problems identified, drawing on the enhanced grants now available.”

Where septic tanks fail inspection, local authorities issue advisory notices to householders setting out what is required to fix the problem. The EPA report found that there were 576 cases where issues notified to householders over two years previously had still not been addressed.

The grant schemes for remediation of septic tanks were changed at the start of 2024 to increase the amount from €5,000 to €12,000 and remove the requirement to have registered the septic tank in 2013. This presents a significant opportunity for householders to fix their septic tanks and resolve open advisory notices.

Mr Noel Byrne, EPA Programme Manager said, “It is unacceptable that the number septic tanks left un-fixed for more than two years continues to rise. Greater enforcement is needed by local authorities to ensure failed systems are fixed. Where faulty septic tanks are not being fixed, particularly given the availability of the enhanced grant scheme, local authorities need to use their enforcement powers to protect the environment and public health.”

The National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems 2022 – 2026 was published by the EPA in 2021. The plan requires a minimum of 1,200 inspections from 2023 onwards. There was a shortfall in inspections by five local authorities in 2023 and these need to be completed in 2024. The EPA issued legal directions to make up for shortfalls in inspections by Waterford County Council in 2022 and to Galway County Council in 2023.

Another question for ‘Canvassing Councillors’ and ‘Would Be MEP’s’ calling to your door.

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