Almost 300 people attended a public information meeting held by local Deputy Denis Naughten in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone on Tuesday evening to outline the issues surrounding septic tanks and the new regulations to be introduced.
“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,” said Deputy Naughten.
“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.”
The meeting heard that registration of septic tanks will take place this year and inspections will begin next year on a risk-based system. Explaining that the cost of upgrade could range from small amounts up to €17,500, Deputy Naughten called on the Government to make a grant scheme available.
“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,” said Deputy Naughten.
“Forty per cent 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 was Noel Connaughton, lecturer in environmental science at Sligo IT. He explained 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 groundwater, and highlighted the need to desludge a tank even when it does not appear there is a problem.
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.