Grants of up to €4,000 will be made available to householders who need to upgrade their treatment systems and septic tanks under a new scheme announced by the Government.
A maximum grant of €4,000 is to be made available to households where household income is under €50,000, while those whose household income is between €50,000 and €75,000 can avail of €2,500.
These represent a percentage of the total cost of the upgrade. The €4,000 grant will cover up to 80 per cent of the costs incurred, while the €2,500 grant will cover up to 50 per cent.
Domestic tanks and other waste water systems should be registered by February 1. Septic tank inspections will get under way in the New Year and only householders who register their systems, and whose tanks are found to be in need of remediation, will be eligible for a grant.
Householders will be notified in writing in advance by their local authority if their system is to be inspected and for safety reasons householders are advised to ask for evidence of identification from people calling to their doors.
People can register for the grant through www.ProtectOurWater.ie; through forms available in County Buildings, City Hall, libraries, and Citizens Information Centres; or by calling 1890-800 800.
The grants have been welcomed by Galway Fine Gael TDs. Galway West TD Brian Walsh said the grants “will go a considerable way to ensuring remedial works will not place undue financial pressure on the householders”.
He added: “Despite consistent scaremongering from Fianna Fáil and others about the cost of repairs, the reality is that the vast majority of septic tanks will pass inspections.”
Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames said: “The majority of septic tanks are working well, but those that aren’t pose a threat to our drinking water supplies. Ensuring we have effective waste water treatment systems is essential for the environment and for our economy.”
However Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív described the grant scheme as a “small step in the right direction” but one which “fails the test of fairness for rural dwellers”.
“It is disappointing that the Minister has capped the grant at €4,000, has imposed a means-test and has not given grants of 100 per cent, which is totally at variance with the situation in areas with public sewerage schemes,” he said.
“Homeowners requiring major works on their septic tanks will still be liable for a large proportion of bill. The fact that the Minister has seen fit to set a maximum level is in itself proof of the fact that he realises that many septic tanks will require expensive upgrades under his plan.”