With letters reminding home-owners to pay the Household charge being sent out this week, the Minister for the Environment has also announced registration is now open for the Septic Tanks Charge.
Speaking last Tuesday, Minister Phil Hogan announced he was commencing the introduction of what is commonly referred to as the Septic Tanks Charge, which will require the owners of domestic waste water treatment systems to register their systems with their water services authority.
A reduced registration fee of €5 will apply between now and September 28 after which the fee will rise to €50. Owners will be required to renew their registration every five years but no fees will be payable in respect of re-registration applications.
According to a spokesperson for the Council a register of domestic water treatment systems will enable the planning and implementation of an inspection programme. Any inspections that are carried out will check that systems are working properly so that water including groundwater, surface water and drinking water, can be protected from the risks posed by malfunctioning systems.
“This initiative will ultimately enhance and protect public health and the environment which will, in turn, benefit everyone in terms of a better quality of life and improved water quality,” they added.
Long-time opponent of the charge, Cllr Mark Casey outlined his concern about the upcoming inspections which are due to begin next year. “I oppose registration because local authorities already know that any house not connected to a public sewer is connected to a septic tank or their own treatment system so why should home-owners have to pay to register,” Cllr Casey said.
“I am concerned that some septic tanks inevitably will fail the initial inspection and that the householder will be faced with significant works and cost to enable compliance with EPA standards which may require a new septic tank, percolation system, testing of soil and engineers fees which could run into thousands of euro.”
Cllr Casey stated: “The soil types in most areas of Longford/Westmeath and the west of Ireland is unsuitable for percolation areas as required to meet the EPA standards. Quite simply people in high areas of unemployment like Longford/Westmeath cannot afford huge upgrading costs,” he added.
The Environmental Protection Agency is working on finalising matters relating to inspection programmes and inspection standards. Inspection programmes will be initiated on a risk basis in the beginning. “Not every system will be inspected initially and factors including proximity to drinking water sources, rivers, lakes and streams will be taken into account when decisions are being made in relation to which systems will be inspected,” the EPA said.
It is expected these inspections will commence in 2013, with the EPA warning home-owners that a national media campaign will begin before the inspections and people should take care not to allow uninvited persons, or persons claiming to be inspectors, to enter onto their property in advance of the launch of inspections.
Meanwhile, home-owners who appear not to have paid the household charge have started receiving letters reminding them to pay. Just over half the home-owners in the country have paid up and the authorities still have to chase payment from about another 650,000 houses. The letter reminds home-owners if they pay by the end of this month the amount due, including penalties, is €114 per property.
Those wishing to register a Domestic Waste Water System can do so in person at the Camlin Court offices of Longford County Council or online at www.protectourwater.ie. Application forms can also be sent by post with the appropriate registration fee to Protect our Water, PO Box 12204, Dublin 7.