I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 43 together.
On 25 June 2013, I signed the Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library. The Regulations brought into operation a grants scheme to assist with the cost of remediation of septic tanks and domestic waste water treatment systems which are deemed, following inspection under the EPA's National Inspection Plan and the subsequent issue of an Advisory Notice by the local authority, to require repair or upgrading.
The Regulations provide that, subject to the applicant meeting all qualification criteria, a local authority may pay a grant to a person who is required, following an inspection, to have repairs or upgrades to, or replacement of, a septic tank or other domestic waste water treatment system. Applications for grant aid are administered by the local authorities in whose functional area the particular domestic waste water treatment system requiring remediation is situated. Where a local authority pays a grant under the scheme, my Department will recoup 100% of the amount paid by the local authority. To date, no applications for recoupment have been submitted by the local authorities to my Department.
The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 assigns responsibility to the EPA to make a National Inspection Plan for domestic wastewater treatment systems. The National Inspection Plan 2013: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems was adopted and published by the EPA in February 2013. The Plan provides for a minimum of 1,000 inspections to be carried out by the water services authorities (which are the 34 county and city councils) in the 12 month period up to July 201 4. Details of the minimum number of inspections to be carried out in each county are included in the Plan.
An IT system, developed by the EPA for use by the water services authorities, underpins implementation of the National Inspection Plan. The system facilitates the selection of treatment systems for inspection based on the risk to human health or the environment and captures all information relating to inspections. This will ensure a consistent approach to inspections nationally. Implementation of the Plan is a matter for the individual water services authorities, under the supervision of the EPA. The IT system in use enables individual water services authorities to track the progress in completing inspections against the Plan's requirements and enables the EPA to monitor the progress by all authorities. The EPA has committed to review the implementation of the National Inspection Plan in 2014. As neither I nor my Department have any direct role in monitoring the implementation of the Plan, I have no information on the number of inspections carried out to date.