In 2012, the Water Services (Amendment) Act was introduced to protect ground and surface water quality and in particular drinking water sources from various risks posed by malfunctioning septic tanks. All registered owners of properties connected to a domestic wastewater treatment system (i.e. septic tanks and sewerage treatment systems) are now required to register their system with “Protect Our Water”.
Domestic wastewater treatment systems include all septic tanks, waste water tanks and treatment systems receiving, storing, treating or disposing of domestic waste water. It also includes all fittings and percolation areas associated with such tanks and systems and drains used to discharge wastewater from a property.
Inspections of your wastewater treatment systems are due to take place throughout 2013 and you will be formally notified by your water services authority if you have been selected to have your system inspected. Both registered and unregistered systems will be liable to inspection. However, unregistered systems will be more likely to be inspected.
Unfortunately, there are no exemptions and all registered owners connected to a domestic wastewater treatment system must register their system. This includes owners of properties which are let and does not matter whether or not the owner is a private landlord or a local authority.
The registered owner of a wastewater treatment system needs to ensure that they maintain the system and the following are some good points to note;
- You need to know where your septic tank is located.
- You should operate and maintain the system so it is fit for purpose and fully operational.
- You need to ensure that the system cannot pollute the environment by discharging or leaking waste anywhere it is not supposed to, that is, into the ground or any water source.
- Ensure that roof water or surface water run-off cannot enter a domestic waste water treatment system.
- De-sludge the system at intervals appropriate to the tank capacity and the number of people resident in the premises connected to it, or as recommended by the system’s manufacturer. De-sludging should be carried out by an authorised contractor. You should keep the receipt from the contractor for 5 years.
In order to have availed of a grant scheme to provide financial assistance to those registered owners whose domestic wastewater treatment systems are deemed to require upgrading or remediation, the treatment system must have been registered by the 1st February 2013.
However, if you have registered your system prior to the 1st February 2013, the level of grant available will depend on the income of the household. Please see the table below.
Household Income %Costs Available Maximum Grant
Up to €50,000 80% €4,000
€50,001 – €75,000 50% €2,500
For anyone that is only now registering their system, the fee is €50.00. You can pay the charge online www.protectourwater.ie by using your credit or debit card, by post or by attending your local authority. If you wish to register by post, registration forms are available online or at your local County Council office, Citizen Information Centre or Library. Once you have registered, a Certificate of Registration will be issued to you by post when your registration fee is processed.
A Certificate of Registration is required when selling/transferring ownership of your property. This certificate will confirm that the property has been registered. The new owner will be responsible for updating the ownership details with Protect Our Water. The certificate of registration is valid for five years and the date of expiry will appear on the certificate.
If you don’t register your system, you are committing an offence for which fines apply.