Figures released by Cork Co Council show that 60% of septic tanks inspected are non-compliant with new regulations — especially de-sludging by householders.
The non-compliance rate is slightly above the 53% national average, according to latest figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Cork Co Council has to date carried out 99 inspections and it is expected 1,000 will have been carried out nationwide by the end of this month.
Sharon Corcoran, head of the council’s environment directorate, said to date the inspections were only on a pilot basis and she expected the EPA shortly to announce a five-year plan which will significantly ratchet up the numbers.
Even at that, it would take years to inspect the 53,000 registered septic tanks in the county and Ms Corcoran says she suspects the true figure is likely to be around 58,000.
It is understood there are around 500,000 septic tanks throughout the country and just 89.7% of them are registered.
The inspections are being carried out under the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems National Inspection Plan.
Ms Corcoran said that all areas are open to random inspections, but priority is being given to areas where water quality, particularly drinking water, is most at risk from leaks from septic tanks.
“It’s to ensure septic tanks or waste water treatment systems are operating properly and do not pose a risk to human health or the environment,” Ms Corcoran said.
As well as inspections, the council is making leaflets available to households in order to educate people about ensuring their septic tanks are up to scratch.
People who registered their septic tanks prior to February 1, 2013, are entitled to a grant if remedial work has to be carried out on the structure. A grant of 75% is available for repairs up to a maximum of€4,500. It is also means-tested.
Householders selected for inspection will be notified at least 10 working days in advance of it being carried out by qualified local authority personnel.
Ms Corcoran said householders should not allow any person to enter their property to examine their treatment systems unless they have received prior notification in writing from their local authority that their system is to be inspected.
Any person claiming to be from local authority should be asked for official identification. There is no fee for the first inspection.
“The inspector does not require access to the house, only to the land around the house and on which the septic tank is located,” she said.
Further information on inspections and grants is available on the council website at www.corkcoco.ie. Information leaflets are available in council offices and libraries or through the Environment Directorate at (021) 4532700.
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