Hogan to discuss with Commission & EPA on Tank Standards

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in news | 0 comments

Speaking in the Dáil today about the Water Services Bill 2011, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said His Department is currently in discussions with the European Commission and the EPA regarding the performance standard guidelines that will have to be adhered to by septic tank and wastewater systems in 2013. Before finalising the regulations on the guidelines, including the requirements for maintenance and desludging, there will be a 4 week period of public consultation.

“There are two main reasons for this Bill, the first of which relates to non-compliance with EU legislation. On 29 October 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland in relation to the treatment of waste waters from septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems. The early enactment of this legislation, which will introduce a registration and inspection system for domestic waste water treatment systems, is a critical element in Ireland’s defence against the imposition of fines by the Court. Ireland’s defence needs to submitted by 3 February.

“The second reason is more fundamental. The key objective of the new legislation is to enhance and protect public health and the environment which will, in turn, benefit rural dwellers in terms of a better quality of life and better quality water. Responsibility for protection of public health and the environment applies to everyone, whether living in urban or rural areas. Environmental and health issues must be dealt with as circumstances dictate and where risks exist.

“Groundwater is a source of drinking water for many people. Approximately 26% of the public and private drinking water supply is provided from groundwater sources. The EPA has noted the presence of microbial contamination arising from the entry of faecal matter to Ireland’s waters and stated that one of the main sources of microbial pathogens was on-site waste water treatment systems.

“The provision of a continuous supply of clean water is a fundamental requirement for both the economy and society. High quality water and security of supply is vital to attract foreign direct investment, high end employment, and meet the needs and demands of our existing businesses and communities.

“The Bill offers the most direct means of complying with both the European Court of Justice ruling and therefore the most direct means of ensuring that human health and the environment is adequately protected from the risks posed by domestic waste water treatment systems.”

Under the legislation anyone who owns a septic tank or a waste water treatment system needs to register in 2012. After the public consultation period has been completed and the regulations have been set, a registration system will be in place in Local Authority offices and online. A one-off fee of €50 will apply to registrations. Inspections will commence in 2013 and will be on a risk –based system, whereby the EPA will be responsible for targeting areas where they believe the ground water is of poor quality due to contamination. There will be no inspection charge.

By The Septic Tank Inspector 25/01/2012

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