Septic Tanks Query

Report by Heike O’Sullivan

As you, dear reader of the Kenmare News, your favourite free monthly magazine, may or may not remember, in 2012 owners of houses not connected to a public sewer were called upon to register their domestic wastewater treatment system (“DWWTS”) with their water services authority. Whether you have a conventional septic tank, a filtration system or a mechanical aeration system, European legislation requires local authorities, in our case Kerry County Council, to compile and maintain a register of all DWWTS within their area. The local authorities are then obliged to carry out a certain number of inspections every year to identify malfunctioning systems for the benefit of public health and the environment.
Very recently, a friend pointed out to me that the Certificate of Registration issued via the Protect Our Water registration website by the Local Government Management Agency states that each registration of a DWWTS expires after five years and must therefore be renewed in good time or it becomes invalid.
I must admit that, like you perhaps, I had read our Cert when we received it in the post five years ago, filed it and never thought of it again. Following my friend’s phone call I dug it out and went on to double-check on the renewal requirement. What I found was that although the website’s FAQs informed me of the need to re-register after five years, a small framed note on their home page states there is no need to re-register. It says “the requirement to re-register every five years is being removed from the legislation and your existing certificate remains valid”. Great but slightly confusing.
So I got in touch with Stuart Roche of Kerry County Council’s Environment Department who told me that he had already received a number of queries about this issue from members of the public. Stuart, in turn, very helpfully contacted the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government as well as Protect Our Water to seek clarification and he was in the position to confirm that the legal requirement to re-register DWWTS is currently in the process of being deleted from the statute books. In their official response to Kerry County Council on 5th July last, Protect Our Water stated, “It is expected that the legislation will be enacted before the end of July 2017. Following enactment of the relevant provisions, registrations for [DWWTS] will remain valid indefinitely. Accordingly there will be no requirement to re-register after 5 years have passed from the original registration.”
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you can do away with your Certificate! Keep it somewhere you can easily lay your hands on it, similar to your TV or dog licence, in case you ever get a knock on the door from your friendly septic tank inspector.