Over half of septic tanks are passing inspections – Minister Kelly

Local authorities are inspecting 1,000 septic tanks every year and well over half are passing, according to the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly.

The Government’s policy in relation to septic tanks came under fire in the Dail this week. Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen asked he Minister commit to extending eligibility for the domestic wastewater treatment system grants to include septic tanks that are registered but which have not been inspected by local authorities

He said many people who have contacted him have recognised an issue with their septic tank and are cognisant of the prospect of it contaminating groundwater sources.

“As a result, they have sought the grant assistance that was portrayed by the Government as being available for those who wished to rectify such a situation.

“However, it appears one must be lucky enough to win a lottery in the local authority by virtue of the fact that the septic tank must have been tested and failed the test before one can apply for assistance,” he said.

Responding Minister Kelly said the Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013, were brought into operation a grants scheme to assist with the cost of remediation of septic tanks and domestic wastewater treatment systems which were deemed, following inspection, to require repair or upgrading.

He said the qualification criteria are set out in the legislation and full details of the scheme, including eligibility criteria, are set out in the explanatory leaflet and application form published on his Department’s website.

“The grants scheme ensures the limited financial resources available are targeted towards householders, particularly those on lower incomes,” he said.

The Minister said he has no plans to extend or vary the qualifying criteria of the scheme.

“There is a system in place.

“It had to be put in place as a result of a European Court decision. Under the plan in place and working through the EPA and the local authorities, 1,000 inspections are taking place every year,” he said.

According to the Minister by and large, local authorities have kept up with the level of inspections they were required to undertake.

Regarding the inspections that have taken place, the Minister said well over half of the septic tanks inspected have been found to be compliant.

“A considerable number of the rest just need to have normal maintenance carried out such as de-sludging and so forth.

In the case of the remainder, where additional work is required the Minister said those who wish to do so apply for the grant that is available, but, given the income thresholds, obviously some will not qualify.