The Regulation of Domestic Waste-Water Treatment Systems (DWWTS) (2012) govern the operation and maintenance of septic tank systems. In order to work effectively, DWWTS need to be maintained and desludged on a regular basis and this is the responsibility of the owner and if they are not maintained they can pose a hazard to human health and to water quality. In 2018, the EPA launched its 3rd National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste-Water Treatment systems (2018-2021) whereby local authorities carry out a minimum of 1000 inspections per year.
There are approximately 490,000 septic tanks systems in Ireland. All home owners not connected to a public sewage system are required to register their treatment system on www.protectourwater.ie.
Of the 1,110 inspections carried out in 2016, 49% failed either because of operation and maintenance issues or due to lack of desludging (24%). Structural remediation works was identified as a requirement in 29% of systems inspected.
Once registered, a system will potentially be inspected by the Local Authority and if a defect is identified the householder can apply for a remediation grant. If a defective system is identified as a pressure within a Priority Area for Action in the River Basin Management Plan, catchment scientists may recommend a grant application.
Today, the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government launched a Grant Scheme for:
- households identified in the course of catchment investigations in the areas for action in the River Basin Management Plan
- households identified under the National Inspection Plan
- households with defective DWWTS in High Status Objective Catchments
Up to 85% grant is available for repairs, upgrades or replacements up to a maximum of €5,000. Households situated within a High Status Objective Catchment Areas (HSOCA) can self-identify for the grant. Map of HSOCA
Application forms and further information is available at:
 384 water bodies have High Status Objective catchments with measures aiming to achieve the highest water quality over the course of the plan.