Communities in West Cork will be put at a distinct financial disadvantage because of a crackdown on septic tanks, councillors have warned.
Local representatives fear people in the region will have to pay considerably more than most to have their tanks desludged.
The only sewerage plant in the region capable of disposing of desludged material from septic tanks is in Bandon.
The county council has started surveying septic tanks to ensure they meet EU guidelines.
The crackdown is primarily to ensure they do not pose any leak threats which could lead to pollution of public water supplies.
The council said 55% of households inspected in the county last year had septic tanks which weren’t compliant with EU legislation, mainly because they weren’t desludged.
The failure rate in West Cork was the highest, at 59%.
Grants are available to repair problems with septic tanks, but they are means-tested and desludging doesn’t qualify for grant aid as it is considered routine maintenance.
Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll said the distance between the Bandon treatment plant and some communities on the West Cork peninsulas is up to nearly 140km.
He said contractors would have to charge a lot of money due to the mileage involved to take sludge from septic tanks on peninsula homes and dispose of it in Bandon.
County engineer David Keane said that, at present, Bandon was the only facility in West Cork capable of handling septic tank sludge.
He said that since Irish Water officially took over all sewerage treament facilities on Tuesday, he suspected the company was likely to require “a fee” to dispose of the effluent.
“We need to get some of the treatment plans nearer to the peninsulas to take this waste sludge,” he said.
Mr Keane said it a matter for Irish Water, as it was now out of the county council’s control.
Chairman of the council’s western committee, Fianna Fáil councillor Pat Murphy, said this was yet another example of people in rural Ireland being put at a distinct financial disadvantage.
The Mayor of County Cork, Fianna Fáil councillor Alan Coleman, said the council’s environment special purposes committee should investigate the possibility of getting other sewerage treatment plants in the region adapted to handle septic tank sludge.
In the meantime, councillors are to contact Irish Water officials and seek a meeting with them to discuss the issue.
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