ALMOST 400,000 households had registered their septic tanks and domestic waste water treatment systems by the deadline of 1 February, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan said.
The number of households registering means that almost 80 per cent of liable households registered by the deadline, according to Hogan – who thanked all those households that registered by the closing date of last Friday.
I want to sincerely thank all those householders that registered their domestic waste water treatment systems by the closing date. Once again it is the silent majority that have supported the primary objective of this legislation, which is to enhance and protect public health and the environment in terms of better quality water.
Protecting our environment will also have positive economic benefits. Clean water is vital for all sectors of our economy from pharmaceuticals and ICT to the agricultural and food-producing sectors, all of which rely heavily on clean water.
Hogan encouraged the remainder of liable households to register soon – noting that the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 introduced a new system of registration and inspection for on-site waste water treatment systems, and requires householders to have their treatment systems correctly maintained so as not to cause a risk to human health or the environment.
Hogan said that he had “inherited” a serious problem and so prioritised bringing forward the necessary legislation to help solve the problem. “I would now appeal to the minority of householders that have not yet registered to comply with the law and register their systems. I commend the vast majority of law-abiding householders who have sent a very clear and strong message to the irresponsible members of the Opposition who advocated breaking the law,” the Minister said.
The introduction of the new system was prompted by a European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland in October 2009.
Inspections to commence this summer
Inspections, commencing this summer, will be based on a National Inspection Plan to be published by the EPA shortly. Minister Hogan said that he was conscious of “considerable concern and scaremongering about inspections” but said he was confident that the majority of householders should have nothing to worry about.
“Inspections will be objective and aimed at identifying systems which are a risk to public health or the environment. Where an on-site system fails an inspection, practical and pragmatic solutions will be identified to bring the system into compliance in the most cost-effective manner,” he said.
Under the new legislation, local authorities can request householders to produce evidence of registration. It is an offence under the legislation for a householder not to register and the penalty – if convicted – is a fine of up to €5,000.
Last month, Minister Hogan announced his intention to introduce a grant scheme for householders’ whose systems are deemed, following an inspection, to require remediation or upgrading; full details of that scheme ware due to be set down in regulations to be made by the Minister in advance of inspections commencing later in 2013.
Owners of systems selected for inspection will be notified at least 10 working days in advance of an inspection being carried out.
The Department has warned householders not allow any person enter their property to examine their treatment system unless they have received prior notification in writing from their local authority that their system is to be inspected.
Any person claiming to be from a local authority should also be asked for official identification.