Site Assessment and Septic Tank Registration/ Inspection

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    • #711456

      Take some time and read this informative website (no connection)–not-manufacturer-recommendations-53.html

      Those who thought that the new and improved requirements for using Registered Site Assessors were the thin end of a wedge appear to have been correct in the eyes of some TD’s. “Big Phil” Hogan, Minister for the environment in their view has taken up smoothly where “Gormless” Gormley left off, ham-fistedly imposing unworkable measures on the population of Ireland to kow-tow to the Mer-Kozy Beast.

      We’ve already started to see defections from the mainstream parties over austerity measures – now it seems that we’ll see ructions over new regulations for inspecting septic tanks. Here is Big Phil getting mauled by Mattie McGrath on Pat Kenny the other day. And the gas thing is, this regulation really *is* needed and Phil is following an edict from Brussels, not just one of Gormley’s policies.

      But how much is policy and how much is local boys pretending to be David to the Government’s Goliath?
      Read this link first and then read the transcript of the interview below and form your own opinion



      The Funniest Radio Ding Dung You’ll Read This Week
      1:41 pm December 2, 2011 Bodger

      And by ‘dung’ we do mean ‘dung’.
      On Today With Pat Kenny yesterday morning Independent TD Mattie McGrath maintained there is no need for people to pay the €50 registration fee for septic tanks as county councils already have the information. He said this data would have been collected in the process of seeking planning permission and building a house. But Environment Minister Phil Hogan said this isn’t true and the Government has no comprehensive record of septic tanks.

      Prompting the following:

      Mattie McGrath: “What I don’t want Pat and listeners..God we got rid of the Black and Tans and Cromwell, not a bother. I don’t want to wake up some morning and see two or three gentlemen in my backyard or anybody’s backyard, peeping into my septic tank, like the peep o’dayboys doing out searches. And they expect

      Kenny: “Hang on, what could, we know what goes into septic tanks…”

      Mattie: We do and..

      Kenny: “I mean there’s no embarrassment…”

      Mattie: “Do we want to know the colour of it now aswell, Pat? Do you want to know the shape and size and colour of it. For God’s sake, ask the minister, he’s a rural deputy, to cop on to himself here. Stop frightening people out of their wits. Stop imposing more austerity, more penal laws on rural people. They won’t accept it, Pat.”

      Phil Hogan: “Well I’m not introducing this legislation because I want to. It’s because the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland. We had it in October 2009 and it forced us to do so. And due to a lack of will from people like Deputy McGrath, and his colleagues at the time, they never introduced the legislation to give effect to that judgement. Even though Fianna Fail and the Greens signed up at the time for licensing septic tanks in their Programme for Government. So I have a responsibility, as Minister for the Environment, to protect ground water, to protect human health and to protect the taxpayers because if we don’t, you know, make sure that the septic tanks are in good working order and that they’re not endangering water supplies and local communities, well then we’ll have a bigger difficulty. I don’t want my well infected with E Coli from my neighbour’s septic tank because I believe inspections will protect and not attack rural householders, protect public health, protect the environment and protect jobs.

      Kenny: “And do you have a septic tank yourself, minister?”

      Hogan: “I do.”

      Kenny: “Ok, so you’ll be paying €100 or €50 or whatever, what is it going to be?”

      Hogan: “It’s going to be a once-off €50 registration charge in 2012. Inspections in the high-risk areas will start in 2013. And there’ll be no re-inspection charges, no re-registration charges, contrary to what Deputy McGrath and others were saying, over the summer months, that we were going to have a €300 of an annual charge.

      Kenny: “So it’s €50 full-stop and then, of course, if you are infecting groundwater, you’ve got to do remedial works.”

      Hogan: “Yes, I understand that some people have old tanks and they maybe be worried if they’re faced with major upgrading costs. This is going to be concentrated in high-risk areas. And, if people, with genuine money difficulties, at the end of the inspection period, have a requirement for some financial support, well then I have said that in the Dail and the Seanad, that we will look at that in the context of the budgetary situation of the time.”

      Kenny: “So, Mattie McGrath what’s all the fuss about?”

      Mattie: “Look, we know the budgetary constraints that are there, everyone knows that, he doesn’t have to remind us of that. Look the fuss is about, this is about an attack on rural Ireland. It’s a huge indiscriminatory piece of legislation. I’m very surprised with Minister Phil Hogan. And I know him , I respect as Big Phil, as we know him, he’s a neighbour down in my neighbouring constituency, but this is the last straw. The people in this country saw off John Gormley and his cabal, who were bringing in every kind of legislation and they put their trust in Fine Gael and I was delighted and I voted for Phil Hogan as minister and Enda Kenny, as Taoiseach. But I’m pure shocked now as I thought he was going to protect the people of rural Ireland, instead of attacking them.”

      Kenny: “But hang on a second Mattie. He’s outlined a €50 registration charge, just for that process and then nothing, unless you are an offender?”

      Mattie: “Pat, you’re living in the city. You don’t have a septic tank, do you?”

      Kenny: “No, I don’t. No, no.”

      Mattie: “Right. Pat, why would you have to register a septic tank? I built my house in 1984. I got planning permission. Thousands of occupiers in…40% of the households in my constituency have septic tanks. They bought the sites in most cases, they got the planning permission, paid the charges, built the house themselves, didn’t look to the State to do it. And now they’re being asked to register? The county council have a register of all those septic tanks. Either they’re too lazy or they’re inept, or why won’t they…”

      Kenny: “Well minister what about that? They know where all the septic tanks are.

      Mattie: “Course they do. And why do you expect people to pay €50 to, to, to register. And it won’t stay at €50, we know that.”

      Kenny: “Minister.”

      Hogan: “Well, it will stay at €50.”

      Mattie: “It won’t.”

      Hogan: “It’s in the bill. It’s a very unique occasion where it states it’s €50 in the Bill. There are no comprehensive registers of septic tanks.”

      Mattie: “Course there are.”

      Hogan: “Well I’m just going to try to tell you what the truth is. The Planning and Development Act of 1963 certainly has certain information but many properties that were constructed since 1964 have been sold more than once. And the planning regulations do not contain details of any changes of ownership and ownership details concerning properties.”

      Mattie: “Minister I can’t believe your arrogance. I can’t believe it. I mean Fianna Fail were powerful for 14 years. It took them ten years to be arrogant.”


      Heh – Mattie looks like he is stealing my lines from from months ago.

    • #817452

      I haven’t read the proposal sheets.
      But listening on TV to the minister’s plans do not bring me to fear much.
      If anything the proposals seek very meek to me.
      It may be that better proposals could be made on this matter.
      But the most important thing is to make a good start on the problem.

      To me the main thing surely has to be this:
      There are ~ 100,000 rural homes (up to late 1990s) that treat their sewage with septic tank + sump.
      Even if these septic tanks were properly sized for the scale of household they serve (and few really are), they would still be ineffective for sewage/wastewater treatment — and that means that the surrounding groundwater sources are certain to be contaminated.

      And it’s not only homesteads that have these archaic systems.
      Go to any seaside caravan park (Maharees, Co Kerry to name just one) and smell the sewage-soaked seaweed along the nearby shore. This is the direct consequence of having septic tank sewage treatment plus heavy overloading.
      This situation is environmentally scandalous and touristically brainless.
      Something really has to be done.

      Personally, I’d be in favour ALL septic tank + sump arrangements to be replaced as soon as is practicable by modern 3-chamber bio-treatment units. And not just those rubbishy thermoplastic ones either but rather units enclosed in a suitably durable material, e.g. steel reinforced concrete with protective coatings applied to inside surfaces.

    • #817453

      I tend to post the contrary view Teak.
      As it happens I totally agree with your position.

      I think its worse than you might think – I think they aren’t being de-sludged properly.
      I think de-sludging only happens when the tank overflows and I think rotation of percolation areas doesn’t happen at all.
      I think if you go back to the earlier ones in Meath or some other wet, low lying County you’ll find the soil isn’t compatible with the effluent at all.

      So, as usual, the Mattie McGraths of this world seem only interested in the “poor rural dweller” and allowing him to keep polluting the environment, while the rest of us pay carbon taxesout every orifice.

      I know he and his constituents have got a point on costs in a recession, but you have to wonder why they are against a comprehensive survey being done.

      I suspect its because when the local authorities look at what;s there as opposed to what should be there, there will be a difference.

      Of course if Google / the American Military would release current detailed overflights of Ireland to the government we could have all this sped up!

    • #817454

      I think rotation of percolation areas doesn’t happen at all.

      What is this ?
      I thought that once adequate amount of perc trenching had been set, then that would be adequate
      as long as the average volume of wastewater guided into the system did not significantly exceed
      the design volume . . .

      Please elaborate.

    • #817455

      Its no mystery – back when SR 11 was being interpreted it was not uncommon to be asked for two percolation areas each capable of dealing with the effluent.

      The original document was quite old and not up to standards even in the Nineties so the workaround of using two percolation arose – a percolation area and a reserve percolation area

    • #817456

      Correction – I referred to SR 11 in the above post – its SR 6 of course.

      SR 11:1988 was the standard for structural timber for domestic construction.

      SR 6:1991 dealt with domestic septic tanks.

      From the Siteassessor website

      Here is a version of SR6:1991 in pdf form –

      Section 1.2.5. refers to the Reserve Percolation Area.

    • #817459

      Each perc area capable of dealing with the effluent ?

      Then why have the second one ?
      This suggests that the authors of the old standard already knew that the dimensions of a sole perc area were not adequate for the effluent loading fed into it . . .

    • #817458

      There are several factors affecting the disposal of sewage.

      The old percolation test was a measure of how permeable the subsoil was.
      If it was too permeable, there was a risk of groundwater pollution.
      If it was too impermeable, there was a risk of it staying on the surface and not being filtered by the soil and/or “digested” by anaerobic bacteria.

      However even where the percolation rate was “just right” [The Goldilocks Standard – I just made that up :)] not much happened outside the grass growing season.

      If the temperature fell below circa 10 degrees Celsius, the received wisdom was that the grass stopped growing and not much “digestion” occurred.
      Also if there was a high water table during the rainy season or very cold / freezing weather, nothing worked well.
      Thus you were left with a bare 6-8 months good use out of the system with 4-6 months poor or no use.

      This could sometimes lead to a percolation area becoming saturated with effluent over time.
      The fact that this was recognized is implicit in the Reserve Percolation Area requirement.
      This allowed another percolation area to be used to allow the first to “recover”.

    • #817457

      And has the received wisdom changed since then ?
      Because I saw or heard no order to set aside a reserve perc area when I was doing mine in the last few years.
      And I went by the EPA guidelines.
      Although I had to use near twice as much land in the perc area because I was just below the lower soakage time range . . .

    • #817460

      Total climbdown by Hogan now.

      Now we’ll have Finance officials dreaming up new indirect taxes on rural dwellers to pay for the shortfall.
      A shortfall that they themselves ought be paying.

      If it’s climbdown in the face of “revolution” for the sake of €50, then what chance have we getting all
      archaic septic tanks to be pulled up and replaced with solid STUs . . . :eh:

    • #817461

      When I hear yer man Ming talking about all the poor people in the country having to pay more than the city dwellers I have to laugh.

      They saved on everything else – site, design, build quality.
      They didn’t ave building bye-laws in rural areas so the built standard was poor.
      They had the land gifted to them by their parents so the site cost them next to nothing.

      They increased hazard on National Primary Routes with ribbon development and the house designs were generally dire.
      Every shade of brick and Southfork columns designed by the local engineer, with three-light windows and long, dark internal corridors.

      Whereas “townies” had the amenities and services built in to the asking prices they rural dweller didn’t and had huge carbon footprints as a result.
      Five and ten mile trips to get to the shops or school or local amenities – both ways, every trip, every day.
      Next they’ll be looking for petrol and diesel tax credits because they had to travel further.

      When they are asked to ensure that something is built to a standard, they whinge.
      It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the tanks weren’t right in the first place.

    • #817462

      Another great result for Big Phil!

      Just 4% of homeowners with a septic tank have registered it online since the Environment Minister introduced a scheme in June.

      The government introduced new rules on septic tanks obliging homeowners to make sure they’re working properly and not polluting water.

      People who have a septic tank or waste-water treatment system are required to register them by February 1 next year.

      Registration costs €5 until September 28, when the fee rises to €50.

      According to the latest figures from the Department of the Environment, only 18,000 out of an estimated 497,000 properties have registered their domestic waste water treatment system.

      The controversial plan to register septic tanks has been criticised by some rural dwellers who claim it discriminates against them and would force them to spend thousands of euro upgrading their tanks while city dwellers did not face such charges.

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