Your questions answered
Q: I recently read about a new national inspection plan for septic tanks. I live abroad but own a holiday home in Wexford with a septic tank. I wasn’t aware that I might need to register it and have it inspected. I am also concerned that I have missed the deadline. Can you please explain how I can register and what the inspection plan is all about?
A: The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 introduces a new registration and inspection system for septic tanks and other domestic waste-water treatment systems in Ireland. This new piece of legislation has been enacted to achieve the targets of the Water Framework Directive and also to help Ireland comply with the requirements of the European Court of Justice ruling C 188-08.
Under this ruling Ireland has been prosecuted and fined for its failure to maintain a register of individual domestic waste-water treatment systems and also for its failure to monitor performance and discharges from such systems.
All owners of premises connected to a domestic waste-water treatment system were required to register their systems by February 1st, 2013. In relation to your own septic tank system you must register with Wexford County Council, which is the relevant local authority for Co Wexford.
While you have missed the February 1st, 2013, deadline, it is still possible to register and this can be done online at protectourwater.ie. There is no immediate penalty for late registration but you will not now be entitled to a remediation grant if your septic tank is deemed upon inspection to require remediation works.
Inspections under this new system will start in 2013 and inspections will be publicised in the national and local media. People should take care not to allow uninvited persons, or persons claiming to be inspectors, to enter on to their property in advance of the launch of inspections.
People will be formally notified by their local authority if their domestic waste- water treatment system is to be inspected. Inspectors will be required to carry identification and you should ask for this to be presented to you or to your representative.
* Terry O’Leary is a chartered planning and development surveyor
Q: My partner and I recently moved back to Ireland to settle. We are currently staying with family and are looking to buy a house in Dublin. However, there doesn’t seem to be a very good selection of three- or four-bedroom family homes in residential areas we like. We are very surprised after hearing all about the property crash while we were abroad and find it hard to believe there is apparently a shortage of houses. Can you explain what’s happening?