Nearly one-quarter of the septic tank systems checked in Ireland last year were found to be a risk to human health or the environment.
A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency notes that more than half the domestic wastewater treatment systems inspected in Ireland last year were found to be faulty because they were not built or maintained properly.
The agency said there are nearly half-a-million domestic wastewater treatment systems in Ireland – mostly septic tank systems.
Of the inspections carried out last year, 54% were found to be faulty because they were not built or maintained properly, while 23% were found to be a risk to human health or the environment.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Noel Byrne from the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said 12% of Ireland’s waterways and the aquatic life they contain are at risk of pollution due to faulty septic tanks.
Meanwhile, faulty tanks can lead to “leaking or ponding in the garden” leaving your family with “direct exposure to sewage effluent.”
“There is a group of particular concern here – that is the people with a drinking water well on the same site as their septic tank,” he said.
“There are 160,000 households in Ireland that have their drinking water well and their septic tank on the same site and if your septic tank is not working properly you could contaminate your own well or your neighbours well with bacterial viruses and then you can become ill because of it.”
He said there are three things that septic tank owners must do to keep their system in shape.
“If you have a well onsite and septic tank, get your well tested annually to make sure it is safe to drink,” he said.
“Secondly, go down to the area where your septic tank is and check there are no leaks or ponding.
“Thirdly, get the system cleaned out every three to four years.”
The report also warned that more than 460 systems that failed inspection more than two years ago have yet to be fixed.
The septic tank grant scheme, which was expanded in 2020, offers grants of €5,000 to assist in addressing malfunctioning systems.
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