EU rules mean Government faces fines of €26,000 a day if laws are not enacted
THE registration fees now faced by almost half a million septic tank owners are the result of a European Court of Justice ruling in October 2009.
It found that Ireland had broken EU law for failing to enact legislation to deal with domestic waste water from septic tanks and other treatment systems.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan says the system of registration is a critical element in Ireland's defence against the imposition of hefty fines of as much as €26,000 per day by the court.
Mr Hogan now says inspections will be "risk-based" so they will only be carried out if pollution is found nearby.
Some of the criteria for tanks to pass the inspections will be:
• Ensuring that roof water or surface water run-off is not allowed in the treatment system
• That "grey water" from washing machines and sinks is treated in the system.
• That pipes and vents of a system aren't blocked
• That all manholes and other points are sealed and in good condition.
• That electrical components, like alarms or pumps, are "fit for purpose".
But if the septic tank is causing problems, owners will need an upgrade at a cost of as much as €8,000.
They will be given a timeframe by their local authority to upgrade the tank, depending on how much pollution it is causing.
The greater the pollution, the less time allowed for repair.
The 2006 census put the number of septic tanks in Ireland at 441,000, but this is expected to rise to between 475,000 and 485,000 in Census 2011.
Those who don't pay the registration fee could be taken to court and hit with a fine of as much as €5,000.