Local authorities carry out inspections of septic tanks and similar systems for a variety of reasons, including water quality issues at drinking water sources or within designated shellfish or bathing water catchments and arising from reports of pollution from members of the public. Separately, inspections are carried out based on the EPA’s National Inspection Plan 2013: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems, which uses a risk-based methodology such as densities of individual treatment systems across the numerous hydrological and geological settings in Ireland and the locations of sensitive groundwater or surface water receptors.
Local authorities have all appropriate powers of inspection, investigation and enforcement under the Water Services Act 2007 and under the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977 and 1990 to protect water quality, public health and the environment from risks posed by failing on-site waste water treatment systems. It is a matter for each local authority to determine the most appropriate course of action when dealing with pollution incidents and related risks to public health and the environment. If necessary, the local authority may consult the EPA and/or the Health Service Executive. Section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007 places a duty of care on the owner of a premises to ensure that their waste water treatment systems are kept so as not to cause, or be likely to cause, a risk to human health or the environment, including waters, the atmosphere, land, soil, plants or animals, or create a nuisance through odours.