The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems 2013. The Plan outlines how septic tanks and waste water treatment systems will be inspected in coming years, while making people aware of the risks to their health and to the environment if treatment systems are not working properly.
Gerard O’Leary, EPA Director, comments: “There are around 500,000 homes inIrelandwith domestic waste water treatment systems – our goal is to have every single one of those working effectively. If treatment systems are not working properly they can pose significant risks to people’s health and to the environment. The National Inspection Plan initially focuses on a campaign to advise, educate and help people to operate and maintain their systems. We want to increase the chances of treatment systems passing inspections as this will deliver the best outcome for public health and the environment. Inspections will begin later this year and will be concentrated in areas in need of greatest protection. ”
The EPA has identified areas of priority and set minimum inspection levels for each local authority. Inspections will be concentrated in areas where waste water discharges present a high risk to human health or the environment. Priority areas are based on levels of risk to sensitive water receptors, for example, drinking water sources, bathing waters, or pearl mussel beds.
When inspections commence, homeowners will be notified of an inspection at least 10 days in advance by their local authority. Inspections will focus on determining whether or not the treatment system poses a risk to human health or the environment. Checks will include:
* whether the system is registered;
* that it is not leaking;
* that the system components are in working order;
* that effluent is not ponding on the surface of the ground;
* that the system is not discharging directly to surface water without a licence;
* that rainwater and clean surface water are not entering the system;
* that the system is being properly operated and maintained; and
* that the system has been de-sludged.
David Flynn, EPA Programme Manager, says, “We all need to take responsibility for protecting and enhancing rivers, lakes and ground waters. This plan is one part of the effort to improve and protect our waters for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of our people and also of farming, industry and tourism.”
Short animated videos developed by the EPA on ‘What you can do to maintain your waste water treatment system’ and ‘What to expect from an inspection’ are available on the EPA website www.epa.ie and are intended to help homeowners pass an inspection and comply with the law.
The National Inspection Plan is available on the EPA website at: http://www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/water/wastewater/