Louth was the only county in Ireland with a 100% record in wastewater treatment system inspections in 2019 – while the county is one of only three counties nationwide with a 100% record of fixing failed systems in the last seven years, along with Carlow and Longford.
Eight inspections were carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency in Louth, with all eight passing. In neighbouring Meath, only 57% of the 69 systems tested passed. Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems are used by householders to treat sewage, with nearly half a million systems active in Ireland. Most of these are septic tanks.
DWWTS can contaminate household wells with harmful bacteria and viruses if not built and operated properly. Excessive releases of nitrogen and phosphorus can pollute rivers, lakes and coastal waters. The National Inspection Plan is running since mid-2013.
While all DWWTS in Louth were found to be compliant, only Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (1) carried out fewer inspections in the 12 month period. One inspection was carried out in Fingal, deemed a failure.
The National Inspection Plan, running since 2013, has found 43 systems in Louth to have failed the inspection between 2013 and 2013, but all have been fixed. Householders should ensure their DWWTS are properly built and maintained and their wells are tested to protect the health of their family. Guidance is available on the EPA website.
Among the key findings in the report were that 51% of systems failed and 26% were a risk to human health or the environment. Meanwhile, 73% of systems that failed have been fixed. This is an area that requires increased engagement and enforcement by Local Authorities.
“It is important that householders fix systems where problems are detected and be aware that they can pose a serious health risk,” Noel Byrne, EPA Senior Inspector said. “While there has been an improvement in the number of systems fixed, there are still many systems where faults are not addressed over a number of years. This requires increased engagement and enforcement by Local Authorities to address remaining failures.”
Nationally, half of almost 1,200 septic tanks failed an inspection in 2019, while more than 25% of failed inspections since 2013 are still not fixed.
The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 requires water services authorities to maintain a register of domestic waste water treatment systems in their functional areas. Under the Act, owners of domestic waste water treatment systems are required to ensure that their systems are on the register.