Domestic waste water treatment systems (DWWTS), mostly septic tanks, are used by householders to treat sewage. There are nearly 500,000 systems in Ireland.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their findings on Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems Inspections in 2022. Local Authorities carried out 1,143 inspections of domestic waste water treatment systems. Of these, 560 (49%) of the treatment systems failed the inspection because they were not built or maintained properly.
230 (20%) of treatment systems inspected were considered a risk to human health or the environment, because faulty systems can contaminate household drinking water wells and pollute rivers.
Dr Matt Crowe of the Water Forum stated that ‘This is not only an issue for water quality, but more importantly it is an issue for the health of homeowners and their families, so uptake of grants to remediate domestic wastewater systems should be promoted, encouraged and facilitated’
A new National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems 2022 – 2026 was published in 2021. The plan increases inspections from 1,000 to 1,200 from 2023 onwards. Five Local Authorities had a shortfall in inspections in 2022 and these need to be completed in 2023. Inspections are focused near rivers where there is greater risk to water quality, and areas with shallow soils where there is greater risk to household wells.
The report, Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems Inspections in 2022, is available on the EPA’s website.