Almost 300 people attended a public information meeting held by local TD Denis Naughten on Tuesday to outline the issues surrounding septic tanks and the new regulations which will be introduced.
The meeting – entitled ‘The Truth About Septic Tank Inspections’ – was organised by Denis Naughten to explain the new septic tank proposals and what they mean for homeowners.
The meeting was addressed by Noel Connaughton, Lecturer in Environmental Science at Sligo IT and expert in the field, as well as by Denis Naughten.
“The reason I organised this meeting is I have had contact from a lot of people who are very concerned about these standards,” stated Denis Naughten.
“Based on the draft regulations it seems that if people haven’t had problems to date then it is unlikely that they'll need to worry with what is coming down the line.
“Based on an independent analysis of the new laws, the number of people whose tanks will require major upgrading is likely to be very small and for the majority of people who will have to upgrade a septic tank, the average cost will be in the region of €2,500.
“But this also clearly highlights the need for the Minister for the Environment to outline the type of financial support that will be put in place to assist struggling families and homeowners who will have to upgrade their septic tank system.”
He pointed out that one-third of homes in the country rely on septic tanks or waste water treatment systems and highlighted the need for good quality ground water for industries such as tourism and pharmaceuticals. He also highlighted that in County Roscommon “one third-of houses are on a public sewer and 61% are on septic tanks”.
The meeting heard that registration of septic tanks will take place this year and inspections will begin next year on a risk based system, with Galway, Monaghan and Louth likely to be the priority areas due to the large number of septic tanks in those counties and the significant threat to the environment and to public health.
Explaining that the cost of upgrade could range from small amounts up to €17,500, Denis Naughten called on the Government to make a grant scheme available.
He said: “Only a very small amount of people will fall into this category. The cost of introducing a grant scheme isn’t as significant as people make it out to be. Judging on current inspection rates we could be talking about 110,000 tanks that could fail an inspection.
“Forty percent of the money spent upgrading a tank would come back to the Government anyway in VAT and tax and if the Government launched a grant scheme similar to the home insulation scheme it would cost in the region of €100 million spread over a number of years – well within the reach of Government even within the current economic confines.”
Also addressing the meeting, Noel Connaughton highlighted the fact that under the new regulations all water from inside the house – including that from washing machines, etc – must go into the septic tank and highlighted the need to avoid letting grease into a septic tank in order to avoid future problems.
He also spoke of the need to ensure the distance between the percolation pipes and ground water in order to minimise the risk of problems occurring with a septic tank.
The need to desludge a tank even when it does not appear there is a problem was also highlighted. Mr Connaughton said: “Over a period of time sludge and scum start to build up. How often you desludge would depend on how many people are living in the house and how many solids go into the tank – the more solids you put in the more sludge you will generate. You are creating a problem even if you can’t see it.”
Other issues which may arise with septic tanks were identified as: leaking pipes, backing up, corroded manholes, access to inlet and outlet pipes and missing or broken vent pipes.
Mr. Connaughton cautioned against people investing huge amounts of money in upgrading their septic tank until it is clear what exactly the new standards will require of homeowners.
He did however believe that all rain water from yards and roofs should not be diverted into the septic tank and it is likely that this will be one of the conditions that homeowners will have to comply with under the new regulations.
Issue dated: 30th March 2012
© Roscommon People