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Domestic waste water treatment systems (septic tanks)

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Registration of domestic waste water treatment systems (Septic tanks)

Households connected to domestic wastewater treatment systems are required to register their systems in line with the Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Registration) Regulations 2012. This includes households connected to septic tanks and similar systems.

Households can register and pay online by credit or debit card by creating an account on the Protect Our Water website or in person at their local authority office.

Registration forms are available from:

  • Local Authority Offices
  • Public Libraries
  • Citizen information centres

The registration fee is €50. Householders who have not yet registered should do so as soon as possible and there are no late payment fees. It is an offence for a householder not to register and, if convicted, the penalty is a fine of up to €5,000. The fee covers the costs of administering the register and managing inspections that are carried out under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012.

Registration was introduced to address a European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland in October 2009. More importantly, it will help protect ground and surface water quality, particularly drinking water sources, from risks posed by faulty systems.

All the relevant legislation on domestic waste water treatment systems is available on our website.

Inspections and performance standards

The basic standard expected for all domestic waste water treatment systems is that they do not cause a risk to human health or the environment. Inspections are carried out to identify treatment systems that do not meet this standard. Irrespective of the age or type of system in place, if there is no evidence of risk to human health or the environment, no action is necessary.  There is no question of imposing modern standards on older systems.  Nor is there any question of householders having to acquire additional land to remediate systems and planning permission is not required for any works arising from an inspection.

Where an on-site system fails an inspection, the remediation work required is based on factors such as

  • the nature of the problem,
  • the extent of risk to public health or the environment,
  • the existing site size and the hydrological and geological conditions present.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a national inspection plan to help identify domestic wastewater treatment systems that are not meeting the expected standard.

Financial Assistance

Some households will be able to receive a grant to assist them in carrying out remediation, repair or upgrading works to, or replacement of, a domestic waste water treatment system. However, there are restrictions that include:

  • The treatment system must have been inspected under the EPA’s inspection plan and an advisory notice under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 issued by the local authority.
  • The treatment system requiring attention must have been registered by the owner of the premises connected to it by the 1 February 2013
  • Households must not exceed the income limits set to avail of this grant.
  • Grants will not be paid towards the normal costs of ensuring a system is working properly e.g. maintaining, servicing or de-sludging a domestic waste water treatment system.
  • Householders applying for grant aid must submit supporting documentation including evidence of household income, itemised receipts for the work carried out and a copy of the contractor’s tax clearance certificate.

Full details of the scheme and an application form

Where can I get further information?

A series of information leaflets about the operation and maintenance of domestic waste water treatment systems, inspections of such systems and the risks to well water quality are also available: