Wastewater legislation for single houses

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DoECLG) has published a Bill (Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011) to regulate wastewater discharges from all homes that are not connected to the public sewer network. This is as a result of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment made against Ireland in 2009 (Case C-188/08). The ruling stated that the failure related to domestic waste waters disposed of in the countryside through septic tanks and other individual waste water treatment systems. If the legislation is not enacted Ireland faces the threat of a lump sum fine of €2.7 million and daily fines of €26,173.

What are the implications of the new legislation?
This ruling has implications for some 440,000 wastewater treatment systems serving single houses in the countryside in Ireland. The DoECLG has published a Bill that includes a registration and inspection system. This means that all on-site septic tank systems or domestic wastewater treatment systems will have to be registered. The registration system is to be established and maintained by the local authorities.

What role will the EPA play?
The EPA will be responsible for the development of a National Inspection Plan. The EPA will use a risk-based approach to the regulation of septic tanks and other domestic wastewater treatment systems. Such an approach will target resources to where they are needed most and deliver the best outcome for public health and the environment at the lowest possible cost. More details on the proposed National Inspection Plan will be made available as soon as it is developed. The EPA will have a supervisory role in relation to the local authority’s performance of its functions. It also will establish and maintain a register of inspectors.

Where can I find out more information?
The DoECLG has published a Bill to regulate on site wastewater treatment systems. We have also produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the latest information available on the Bill.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure that your septic tank or domestic wastewater treatment system is working properly.

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