I propose to take Questions Nos. 47, 50 and 76 together.
The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 provided for the establishment of a new system for the registration and inspection of septic tanks and other domestic waste water treatment systems. The 2012 Act augments the duty of care placed on the owners of on-site waste water treatment systems, under section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007, to ensure their systems do not endanger public health or the environment. The basic standard to be met by all on-site systems is they are operated and maintained correctly and do not endanger public health or the environment. Following a public consultation process earlier this year, I made regulations in June specifying standards for the operation and maintenance of treatment systems. The standards set out in the regulations are consistent with what owners should be doing as a matter of course to ensure their systems are working properly.
I also made separate regulations in June setting out the procedures for householders to register details of their treatment systems with their local authorities. The Local Government Management Agency, LGMA, has developed for the 34 county and city councils, on a shared service basis, an online registration facility and the agency is also tasked with managing a central bureau to process payments of the registration fee. There are just ten days remaining for people to avail of the reduced registration fee of €5 and thereafter, up to the end of February 2013, the fee will be €50 and I encourage householders to register as soon as possible. Application forms are available from local authority offices, public libraries and citizens’ information centres or the fee can be paid online at www.protectourwater.ie. I have asked the local authorities to distribute an information leaflet to all homes in un-sewered areas advising householders of how they can register, as well providing some practical advice on the operation and maintenance of septic tanks. In addition, the LGMA has placed advertisements with local newspapers and radio stations informing the public about the requirement to register and in particular about the reduced registration fee available until 28 September.
Revenue from the registration fee will be used to cover the costs of developing and maintaining the register and associated costs, including publicity and awareness measures.