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Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems (Septic Tanks)

Domestic Wastewater - General Information on Septic Tanks

Wastewaters from single houses in the countryside, that are not connected to sewers, are generally treated on-site by septic tank systems or secondary treatment systems, which come under domestic wastewater treatment systems, (DWWTS).

 

How a septic tank treats your wastewater

 

 

DWWTS accept sewage and waste water from toilets, and what is termed grey water from showers, sinks, wash hand basins, washing machines and dishwashers. The greater the population of the dwelling, the greater the volume of waste water produced. A DWWTS is assumed to have a daily hydraulic loading for each person of 150 litres and typical household occupancy of 2.8 people. 

There are a number of different pollutants in domestic waste water and on-site DWWTS can threaten public health and water quality when they fail to operate satisfactorily. When the wastewater is not absorbed by the soil it can form stagnant pools on the ground surface or discharge into water-courses. In such failures, humans and animals can come in contact with the wastewater and be exposed to pathogens, e.g. faecal coliforms and E. coli. A malfunctioning system can also contaminate groundwater and private wells, while foul odours can also be generated.

The EPA website provides an Animation on how a DWWTS (septic tank or treatment system) works.

 

Advice on installing & maintaining a DWWTS

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published excellent guidance in the form of the  Code of Practice: Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Houses (p.e < 10).  This describes how a suitable treatment system should be designed, installed and maintained, including advice on infiltration (percolation) areas of various kinds depending on ground conditions.

 

Key Points to Note

  • All grey water discharges from the dwelling house, (sinks, showers, baths, washing machine, dishwasher), should be connected to the DWWTS (septic tank).
  • Roof water and surface water from gullies around the dwelling should not be connected to the DWWTS, but should be piped to the nearest water-course. (This avoids hydraulic overloading of the DWWTS and ensures that clean water stays clean)
  • Homeowners are responsible under the Water Services Act (as amended) for regular inspection & maintenance of their DWWTS, and failure to do so may lead to substantial replacement costs.
  • DWWTS will not function indefinitely without being de-sludged, ideally on a regular basis by a permitted contractor, (see list of permit holders below.
  • Homeowners should carry out periodic checks as described in the EPA guidance,http://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/water/wastewater/haveyoucompletedaseptictanksystemcheck.html

 

 Septic tank system check

 

Registration & Legislation

 

  • A registration system for DWWTS is in operation, with most existing DWWTS registered before the 1st February 2013, in accordance with the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 and S.I. No. 180 of 2013 - Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2013.
  • If you have not registered, you should still do so on Protect Our Water website. The website also provides a comprehensive FAQ section.
  • All new development, where a DWWTS is constructed or installed, shall ensure that the system is registered with the local authority within 90 days of connection of the premises to DWWTS ( S.I. 180 of 2013).
  • It is an offence not to register your system, (new or existing).
  • Regulations governing the operation and maintenance of domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTS’s) ( S.I. No. 223 of 2012) require owners of DWWTS to operate and maintain their systems so as not to pose a threat to the public or to the wider environment.

 

Further Information on the legislation  is given on the EPA Website.

 

Further Information on Registration:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-quality/domestic-waste-water-systemsseptic-tanks/domestic-waste-water-treatment-1

 

The above information is also available in Irish at http://www.epa.ie/gaeilge/

 

Septic Tank Inspections

National Inspection Plan 2018-2021 - Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems

 

The Environmental Protection Agency has published the National Inspection Plan 2018-2021: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (NIP), which aims to protect water and human health from the risks posed by domestic waste water treatment systems. Since the plan was first developed in 2013, it has recommended a two strand approach of (i) public engagement (advice & communication) and (ii) risk based inspections.

 

The Plan requires a minimum of 1,000 inspections per year, of which Donegal Co. Council has been allocated a minimum of 118 inspections annually. The plan allocates inspections to various areas or risk zones and Donegal Co. Council then selects geographical areas based on risk to sensitive receptors, such as drinking water abstraction sources, pearl mussel catchments, high status objective catchments, bathing water catchments etc.

 

The EPA reports annually on the implementation of the NIP and general findings from local authority inspections, such as common causes for failures. The most recent report can be found at http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/water/wastewater/nip2016.html

 

 

Preparation for an Inspection

 

Homeowners will be notified at least 10 days in advance of an upcoming septic tank inspection under the NIP. They will be provided with information on;

 

  1. The format of the inspection, detailed in the information leaflet What to expect from an Inspection
  2. Advice on desludging, including a list of permitted contractors, DCC Desludging Guide and WCP Contractors 10 October 2019
  3. General information on septic tanks, in the following leaflets

 

Information leaflets
What you need to know about your septic tank
Is your well at risk from your septic tank
What to expect from your septic tank inspection

What to Expect

 

 

There are certain things you can do to make sure that your DWWTS (septic tank or treatment system) is working properly - See what you can do.

 

 

Failing an Inspection

 

If you fail an inspection under the NIP (Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012), you will have to take steps to repair or remediate your DWWTS so that it does not cause a risk to human health or the environment.  Donegal Co. Council will issue an Inspection Report, detailing the findings of the inspection, and an Advisory Notice listing the remedial steps required to be undertaken within a fixed period of time. Homeowners may apply for an extension of time, which may be granted in certain circumstances, but failure to engage and complete remedial actions in an Advisory Notice is an offence and prosecutions have been taken under the relevant legislation.

 

The EPA provides comprehensive advice on how remedial works should be undertaken so as to fully comply with all relevant legislation, including Planning requirements in Advice notes on remediation and replacement of DWWTS.

 

 

Additional Information

 

DWWTS Sludge

 

The EPA provides Information for farmers who want to spread sludge from their own septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems on their own agricultural land, in accordance with S.I. No. 148/1998 - Waste Management (Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture) Regulations, 1998,  in the guidance leaflet shown, available on their website.

 

Please note that this does not permit a farmer to spread sludge for anyone else’s septic tank, nor to transport such material. http://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/water/wastewater/howtosafelyspreadsludgefromyourseptictank.html

 

Wastewater Systems for building a house

The EPA has published guidance documenting what you need to consider if you are planning to install a septic tank or wastewater system for a domestic dwelling, and how to apply to your local authority for planning permission.

 

Please note that homeowners will not be eligible for any grant aid for properties under 7 years old.

 

http://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/water/wastewater/wastewatersystemsforbuildingahouse.html

 

Septic Tanks & Wastewater Systems when buying or selling a house

The EPA has also published guidance documenting what you need to consider if you are planning to buy or sell a house that has a private wastewater system (including a septic tank) installed on the site. The checklist in this leaflet will help you to find out what you need to know about the system, which will help to ensure the system is efficient, safe and complies with local planning policies and regulations.

 

Failure to properly assess a DWWTS can leave you with costly & unplanned remedial works.

 

http://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/water/wastewater/septictankswastewatersystemswhenbuyingorsellingahouse.html

 

The above information is also available in Irish at http://www.epa.ie/gaeilge/

 

 

Information on Grants

Grants of 85% up to a maximum of €5,000 are available to fix septic tanks systems under the 3 grant schemes described below, if the following criteria are met:

 

  • Eligible only to homeowners who had registered their DWWTS with Protect Our Water on or before 1st February 2013.

 

  • The home must be occupied by the owner as their principal place of residence, ie – holiday homes and rental properties are ineligible.

 

  • For systems installed after 1stFebruary 2013, the grant is only payable if the system was in place for more than 7 years.

 

  • Desludging/maintenance costs are not eligible, Tax clearance to be submitted by contractors, but there are no income thresholds for applicants.

 

 

  1. High Status Objective Catchment Areas: Grants are available to fix septic tank systems in these areas that are or may be causing a threat to the environment and need remediation, repair, upgrading or replacement.

 

            You can check if you are in these areas by inputting your EIRCODE

             in a map and apply Donegal Co. Council for the grant.

 

 High Status Catchment area map

 

 

The High Status Objective Catchment Area map is available in Irish via the following link : https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/bbc9a35b9d2849a49eaa2f1a1bc80891.

 

 

 

  2. National Inspection Plan: Grants are available to fix septic tank systems that fail inspection by a Local Authority under the National Inspection Plan (NIP) and need remediation, repair, upgrading or replacement. The homeowner will receive an Advisory Notice from the Local Authority requiring the system to be fixed. The Local Authority will also handle the grant application.

 

 

 

 3. Priority Areas for Action (PAA’s): Grants are available to fix septic tank systems in these areas that are or may be causing a threat to the environment and need remediation, repair, upgrading or replacement. These systems will be identified by the Local Authority Waters Programme Office (LAWPRO) who will issue a letter confirming eligibility to apply. The homeowner can then apply to the Local Authority for the grant.

 

Note:  Location of a property in a PAA is no guarantee of eligibility for a grant under this scheme.

 

 

Legislation

SI 184 of 2020 – amendment of the original grant scheme (NIP)

SI 185 of 2020 – applies to PAA’s

SI 186 of 2020– applies to High Status Objective Catchments (HSOC)

 

 

Application Forms, Terms & Conditions

 

Details of Terms & Conditions (including the procedure for applying and an application form) for grant aid for eligible works to domestic waste water treatment systems in houses, selected or situated as follows are available from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government at the following links:

 

1. EPA’s National Inspection Plan (NIP) - application FORM DWWTS 1a: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/attachments/nip_-_terms_and_conditions.pdf

 

2. Prioritised Areas for Action (PAA) - application FORM DWWTS 2a: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/attachments/paa_-_terms_and_conditions.pdf

 

3. High Status Objective Catchment Areas (HSOC) - application FORM DWWTS 3a https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/attachments/hsoca_-_terms_and_conditions.pdf

 

The above information, application forms and terms & Conditions are available in Irish at:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/ga/uisce/cailiocht-uisce/corais-fuiolluisce-tidabhcha-searachais/corais-choireala-fuiolluisce-ti

 

 

Grants are administered by Donegal Co. Council; contact the Water & Environment Section if you require further information or wish to enquire about an application, Tel 074-9153900.

 

Privacy Notice (Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government)

The Department is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. This Privacy Notice explains how the Department, as the Data Controller, will process the personal data provided to it in respect of the management and administration of these schemes of financial assistance; how that information will be used, and what rights you may exercise in relation to your personal data.

 Privacy Notice - Administration of Schemes of Financial Assistance under the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021 (259.27 KB)

 

 Fógra Príobháideachais (An Roinn Tithíochta, Rialtais Áitiúil agus Oidhreachta)

Tá an Roinn tiomanta do do phríobháideachas a chosaint agus a urramú. Mínítear san Fógra Príobháideachais seo an chaoi a bpróiseálfaidh an Roinn, mar an Rialaitheoir Sonraí, na sonraí pearsanta a chuirtear ar fáil di maidir le bainistiú agus riarachán na scéimeanna cúnaimh airgeadais seo; conas a úsáidfear an fhaisnéis sin, agus na cearta is féidir leat a fheidhmiú maidir le do shonraí pearsan

 Fógra Príobháideachais - Scéimeanna cúnaimh airgeadais a riar faoin gClár Uisce Tuaithe Ilbhliantúil 2019 - 2021 (393.45 KB)

 

Further Information:

DCC Desludging Guide & WCP Contractors Nov 2019

Remediation and Replacement of Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems

 

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