The role of Westmeath County Council in the inspection of septic tanks “has yet to be clarified”, according to a council official; however he is satisfied the rules as laid down by the Department of the Environment on this are sufficient.
This came to light earlier this week following a question from Cllr Ger Corcoran at the recent Kilbeggan Area committee meeting in the run-up to the February 1 registration deadline for septic tanks.
Cllr Corcoran wanted the council to outline its role in “the investigation and support to people that may be concerned about how their septic tank is functioning, and what advice is available at this stage?”
“The role of the local authorities in this process has yet to be clarified [however] inspections are expected to commence in mid-2013, and will be objective and evidence-based,” he was told.
“There will be a proportionate, and risk-based approach to inspections which will be targeted towards areas where drinking water sources or habitats are at risk from septic tank discharges,” explained the official from the Water Department.
Westmeath has three sources of raw water extraction - the Shannon, Lough Owel, and Lough Lene - and proximity to these will dictate the pecking order of inspection within the county.
All owners will be notified by post of impending inspections, and contrary to popular belief, there will be no unannounced inspections for registered citizens.
Registration for this closes next Friday (February 1 ), and the one-off registration fee is €50.
Remediation grants are available for systems that fail inspection; however if you have not registered by the deadline date, you wil not be able to apply for these. Fines of up to €5,000 may apply for systems not registered.
The Westmeath County Council website contains advice and guidance for good septic tank system management.
You can pay at council offices, online at www.protectourwater.ie, by post through application forms which can be got from the council buildings, libraries, citizen information centres, or by phoning 1890 800 900.
Cheques, postal orders, or bank drafts should be made payable to ‘Save Our Water’, PO Box 12204, Dublin 7.