Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012
WHO DOES THIS COVER?
All owners of premises that are connected to a ‘domestic waste water treatment system’ are covered by this Act and subsequent Regulations.
These systems refer to not only septic tanks, but to any system that involves physical, chemical, biological or thermal processes to treat or dispose domestic waste water or removed sludge.
Each water services authority must establish and maintain a register of local domestic waste water treatment systems.
Each owner must register with the local water services authority by 1 February 2013 either in writing or by electronic means to www.protectourwater.ie Registration must be renewed every 5 years.
If the ownership changes, the new owner must contact their local water services authority and notify them of the change.
When asked by an authorised person, the owner must produce a valid certificate of registration. If the owner does not comply with this request within 20 working days, that person is subject to a Class A Fine (not less than €4,000 and not more than €5,000)
Registration Fee: If the system is registered by 28th September, 2012, the fee is €5; if registered by 1 February, 2013, the fee is €50.
All inspectors must be appointed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the EPA will establish and maintain a register of approved inspectors. They have the power to:
• Enter and inspect premises connected to a domestic waste water treatment system.
• Inspect condition of system
• Monitor wastewater
• Take samples associated with or discharges from system
• Take photographs
• Carry out surveys, take levels and measurements, make excavations and examine depth and nature of subsoil
• Require information regarding maintenance and servicing of system
• Require production of documentation on maintenance/servicing of system
Inspectors must have consent to enter private dwellings. However, any person who, after being notified that an inspection is scheduled, refuses to allow an inspector to enter, obstructs an inspector, gives false or misleading information to the inspector or refuses to comply with reasonable request of an inspector, commits an offense subject to a Class A fine (€4,000-5,000).
• Inspectors must give 10 working days notice for an inspection.
• The inspectors shall give their results of the inspection to the owner within 21 days (If there is a risk to water, air or soil, plants or animals or there is a nuisance through noise or odours or adversely affects the countryside or places of special interest, the inspector shall notify the water services authority as well).
• The authority shall then issue an ‘advisory notice’ within 21 days of notification to the owners about the risks, reasons and remedies.
• If the owners reject these findings, they can ask the water services authority to conduct another inspection for a fee not to exceed €20. If, within 10 days, they find that the original inspection was wrong, the fee will be returned. If the ‘advisory notice’ is upheld, owners have the option to appeal to the District court within 14 days on the grounds that the wrong person was served the notice or there was any substantive or procedural illegality.
Once the owner has remediated the problems with their domestic waste water treatment system, he must notify the water services authority within 10 days. The authority will conduct an inspection to ensure that all the works were done satisfactorily. If works are not done, the owner is subject to a Class A fine of €4,000-5,000.
The Minister may make further regulations on:
• Maintenance plans for domestic waste water treatment systems
• Performance standards for such systems.
• Standards and procedures for emptying such systems and disposal of waste water and sludge.