IN ADDITION to the property tax, some homeowners are also liable for a one-off septic tank charge of €50.
This is due for payment on or before February 1 this year. Payment after February 1 may lead to possible prosecution and a maximum fine of €5,000.
Although generally known as the Septic Tank Charge, the official title is the Water Services ( Amendment) Bill 2011.
The legislation provides for a registration and inspection system for septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not just septic tanks that need to be registered. Basically any property that is not connected to the main sewerage system will be expected to register.
The Septic Tank charge was introduced in February 2012 to address the European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland in October 2009 and to protect ground and surface water quality from the risks posed by malfunctioning systems.
Registration forms are available from Local Authority Offices, Public Libraries, Citizen information centres, Protect Our Water (Lo- Call 1890 800 800) and the Protect Our Water's website.
Where application is made in writing, households can pay by cheque, bank draft, postal order, or credit or debit card.
Households can also register and pay online by credit or debit card by creating an account on the Protect Our Water website.
The €50 fee is payable to cover the costs of administration by the water services authorities and of the riskbased inspections to be carried out.
The basic standard to be met by all domestic wastewater treatment systems is that they do not cause a risk to human health or the environment. The regulations also provide for the operation and maintenance of treatment systems and set out de-sludging requirements
Inspections will commence after the end of the registration period in 2013 and will be objective and evidencebased. Householders can be assured that if their systems are working properly and are being maintained, they need not be concerned. There will be a proportionate and risk- based approach to inspections, which will be targeted towards areas where drinking water sources or habitats are at risk from septic tank discharges.
Unlike the property tax system, there are no exemptions. All owners of premises connected to domestic waste water treatment systems must register their system. This includes owners of properties which are let, whether private landlords or local authorities, and employers who provide living accommodation to employees.
Provision is being made in the Rural Water Programme 2013 for a grant scheme to provide financial assistance to those households whose domestic wastewater treatment systems are deemed, following inspection, to require remediation or upgrading.
The level of grant available will be dependent on the income of the household. The grant assistance will only be available to householders who have registered their system by February 1 2013.
A certificate of registration is valid for five years and the date of expiry will appear on the certificate. Re-registration after five years is necessary but there will be no fee payable for second or subsequent registrations.