Tuesday 26 September 2017

Replacing faulty septic tank could cost up to €7,500

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Householders who have to replace faulty septic tanks under Minister Phil Hogan's new regime will have to be fairly flush.

It costs upwards of €5,000 to replace a traditional septic tank and up to €7,500 for a new bio unit -- now considered a better option for safe disposal of waste.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan hinted last week that financial assistance may be available in some cases, if required, but would not say how much funding would be available, or to whom.

Nor did he lay down what penalties will be imposed if people fail to register.

Septic tanks are found all over the world. There are 25 million in the US alone. Most developed economies have an inspection regime and it was Ireland's failure to follow suit that led the European Court of Justice to rule we had breached EU law.

The Government risked fines of €26,000 a day if it hadn't acted.

A septic tank comprises a single tank with two chambers that receive waste water from the home, both from flushing toilets and grey sink water.

The tank runs into a series of buried outflow pipes where liquid coming from the tank, which is by then denuded of solid waste, is distributed across a percolation area.

The septic tank's job is to separate liquid from the solids which then sink to the bottom and are partly digested and reduced by naturally occurring bacteria.

A reduction in the registration fee, from €50 to €5 applies to those who register during the first three months of the scheme after it comes into operation on March 31.

According to the 2006 Census, a total of 418,033 houses have individual septic tanks. Even if the new brigade of tank inspectors managed to inspect 1,000 tanks a week around the country, it would take years and millions of euro before every tank in the country gets the all-clear or the householder receives a demand for remedial work or replacement.

The 2011 Census is expected to show that there could now be as many as 485,000 septic tanks.

The sheer workload involved in carrying out a national survey may have led Mr Hogan to decide that inspections will be "risk-based" and will only be carried out if pollution is found nearby.

Because of rules regarding the privacy of information gathered during the census, Mr Hogan's department will not be able to access census data.

Mr Hogan has outlined in general terms how the new regime will work and what will cause problems for householders.

Roof water or surface water run-off is not allowed in the treatment system and grey water from washing machines and sinks must be treated in the system.

Pipes and vents of the system must not be blocked and all manholes and other points must be sealed and in good condition. Electrical components, like alarms or pumps, will also be checked.

Sunday Independent

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