Septic tanks standards take practical approach

Public can make submissions for next four weeks

Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Dan Neville, has said that the draft septic tank standards published today Thursday 1st March, by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, underline the practical approach being taken by the Government to protect our groundwater supplies. Members of the public are being invited to make submissions on the draft standards over the next four weeks.

“There has been much scaremongering and false information circulated by members of the Opposition regarding the system the Government is putting in place to ensure septic tanks are working safely. Minister Hogan has consistently shown that the outlandish claims being made are untrue. Today, he has published draft performance standards for septic tanks, and he wants the public’s views on the matter.

“The Government is taking a practical and open approach to this process. The draft standards set out the responsibilities of septic tanks owners. For example, you need to know where your tank is located and you should visually examine it once a year. You also need to ensure only domestic waste water is treated in your tank and that it only discharges from appropriate points.

“I am encouraging anyone with an interest in this issue, to take the chance to make submissions on the draft standards over the next four weeks. Once these submissions are considered, the Minister will finalise standards. The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a National Inspection Plan for local authorities, which will begin tank inspections next year.

“Despite claims to the contrary, there will be no fee for inspections. The cost of the registration process is being kept as low as possible; septic tank owners are being asked to pay a €5 fee. This will raise to €50 after the initial three month registration period.

“The implementation of septic tank standards was yet another can that Fianna Fáil kicked down the road. This Government recognises that we need appropriate standards to ensure we protect groundwater supplies, comply with our EU obligations and continue to attract inward investment from sectors such as pharmaceuticals and ICT.

“It’s likely that the majority of septic tanks will be found to be operating normally, or that some may need small remedial works. The Minister has consistently stated that he will consider the provision of financial support to households where systems need substantial remediation. This is to be welcomed.”

Summary of the key draft standards:

  1. Know where your tank is located;
  2. Visually examine your tank every year;
  3. Ensure only domestic waste water is treated in your tank;
  4. Ensure your tank only discharges from those points for which it was designed to discharge from;
  5. Ensure the effluent is not discharged to or does not rise to the surface of the ground;
  6. Ensure your tank is not discharging into streams/ditches;
  7. Desludge your tank when necessary, using an authorised waste collector;
  8. Ensure that your tank is not polluting and operation and maintenance is in compliance with the manufacturer’s manual, as appropriate.

The draft standards are available to view and download from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s website: The closing date for receipt of submissions is 4 pm on Friday, 30 March, 2012.

Submissions in relation to the draft standards can be made by email to or, in writing, to the address below.

Domestic Waste Water Systems – Consultations,
Water Services Policy Section,
Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government,
Newtown Road,

Please note that all submissions and comments submitted to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for this purpose are subject to release under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003

Dan Neville 086 2435536
01 6184356 OR 01 6183000