EPA highlights risks of defunct water systems

The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published a plan which outlines how septic tanks and waste water treatment systems will be inspected in coming years.

The EPA also want to ensure people are aware of the risks to their health and to the environment if treatment systems are not working properly.

EPA Director Gerard O’Leary said: “There are around 500,000 homes in Ireland with domestic waste water treatment systems – our goal is to have every single one of those working effectively.” 

The National Inspection Plan initially focuses on a campaign to advise and educate people on operating and maintaining their systems.

The EPA says it wants 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. 

The Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan welcomed the publication of the plan. 

“As I have consistently stated, the plan will underpin the risk-based inspection of septic tanks and other on-site treatment systems.

“I also welcome the positive response which issued from the European Commission to the adoption of the Plan. I am confident that the inspection system will benefit rural dwellers by improving water quality and the quality of life in the countryside through the identification and remediation of failing on-site systems,” he said.

Conor McGlone

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