Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

Testers to flush out tank issues

Inspections of 1,000 septic tanks kick off

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Some 1,000 residential septic tanks are to be inspected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between now and July 2014 under new waste water treatment rules.

The inspections will account for less than 1pc of the 446,000 septic tanks registered with the Department of the Environment by the deadline last February.

Although your chances of being selected for an inspection are quite small, it is important to understand what the inspection will entail and how to deal with any potential problems.

Owners of septic tanks selected for inspection will be notified by an inspector 10 days in advance of the inspection.

Specially trained local authority inspectors will carry identification and will check that your existing treatment system is fit for purpose and does not pose a risk to public health or the environment.

The inspection is aimed at ensuring that your septic tank meets the criteria set out in several rules, including the Water Services Act 2012 and the Water Services Acts 2007. The inspector will check:

1. Whether the system is registered;

2. If it is leaking;

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3. If the system components are in working order;

4. If effluent is ponding on the surface of the ground;

5. If it is discharging direct to surface water without a licence;

6. If rainwater or clean surface water is entering the system;

7. Whether the system is being properly operated and maintained;

8. If the system has been de-sludged;

9. If the system is being managed in a way that does not adversely affect the environment.

During the inspection, the inspector will fill out a form that will include details about the septic tank site, the surrounding buildings and area, and any evidence that the septic tank is posing a health risk. The inspector might take photos as part of the inspection.

The official will also give the septic tank owner some basic information on managing septic tank systems and why it is important to manage the system to prevent water contamination and protect human health.

Following the inspection, the owner will be notified of the inspector's findings within 21 days.

If the official has found that your septic tank system is a risk to either public health or the environment, you will be issued with an 'Advisory Notice'.

The advisory notice will state that the septic tank constitutes a risk to human health or the environment and explain the reasons why.

It will direct you to remedy the problems identified with the septic tank during the inspection, but will not tell you exactly what remedial works will be needed.


According to the EPA, this is because each case is site-specific and the owners of problem septic tanks should seek expert technical advice to address the issue.

Once the remedial work has been completed, the householder can have their system re-inspected for a fee of €20.

After this, the advisory notice may be confirmed, amended or cancelled, depending on the result.

Irish Independent