The National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (DWWTSs) – A Proposed Approach

Domestic waste water disposal accounts for approximately one-third of residences in Ireland.  There are an estimated 497,000 (CSO, 2012) DWWTSs in Ireland treating waste water from single houses not connected to a public sewer system.

The Environmental Protection Agency will implement the  The National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems and will incorporate a multi- strategy approach utilising engagement and incentive strategies as well as the traditional site inspections.

The initial focus will be on

  • Ensuring compliance with the registration process
  • The implementation of engagement strategies to encourage best practice for the operation and maintenance of domestic waste water treatment systems.

Site inspection strategies will be predominantly risk based, taking account of sensitive receptors and will be integrated with other regulatory inspections, as appropriate.

The Inspection Plan and potential intervention strategies will be selected and applied on the basis of two factors:

  • Potential risk of the domestic waste water treatment system, which includes their proximity  to sensitive receptors, and
  • Attitude of the homeowner to compliance (as indicated by observance of the registration process).

By combining the potential risk of a DWWTS and the registration compliance level, inspections can initially be targeted at the highest risk areas where the registration compliance is low.

  • Self-certification and reporting by home owners operating DWWTS are to be considered as part of the overall regulatory effort eg. submitting certification of system installation; evidence of a system maintenance contract in place; and evidence of tank de-sludging.

It is anticipated that the proposed Inspection Plan will be available for public consultation.  Interested parties and individuals will be invited to submit comments in writing to the EPA.

The EPA will provide a copy of the final Inspection Plan to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and to each local authority by the end of 2012.  It will also be published on the EPA website.

ECOS Environmental Consultants Limited