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Submissions sought on septic tank regulation guidelines

The guidelines for septic tank regulation have been published by Minister Phil Hogan today. Submissions on the guidlines are now being sought.

A protester in Galway who is against septic tank charges
A protester in Galway who is against septic tank charges
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PHIL Hogan has published the consultation document discussing the septic tank regulations.

The document sets out in full the details of what he proposes to include in standards for the operation and maintenance of septic tanks and other domestidc waste water treatment systems, and was drafted in consultation with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities.

Submissions are being welcomed on the document, which can be viewed online here, by 4pm on Friday, 30 March this year.

General responsibility

This centres on the responsibility of owners to take care of their septic tanks.

It says they should carry out an examination of their system at least once a year to see if it is in need of maintenance. This is the householder’s “first step to fulfilling his or her obligation under the Act to ensure that the treatment system is not a risk to public health or the environment”.

Discharges from the treatment system

Regulations will provide that a domestic waste water treatment system should be operated and maintained by the owner to ensure it is not leaking.

They will also require the effluent discharge pipe should not discharge directly to the surface of the ground.

Regulations will provide that a system should not directly discharge domestic waste water into surface waters such as streams or ditches, except where licensed.

Sludge removal

Under the regulations, the owner of the system should have it de-sludged to avoid causing a risk to public health or the environment.

General operational requirements

This covers tank capacity, roof water and surface water runoff, mechanical and electrical equipment, and other elements of the systems.

Septic tanks

There are over 400,000 septic tanks in Ireland.

They are now required to be inspected to ensure they comply with European standards following a ruling from the European Court of Justice in 2009.

All owners of septic tanks must register them for a fee. It costs €5 to register within the first three months, which then rises to €50.

The deadline for registration is March next year.

Minister Hogan said that if work was required on the tank after an inspection is carried out then it would cost around €100 to carry out measures such as desludging.

Protests against the septic charge have taken place in a number of cities in Ireland due to fears that the legislation unfairly targets rural Ireland and that owners of septic tanks will face further costs if works are needed.

Read: Hogan says there is ‘no excuse’ not to pay septic tank charge>

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