2021 step by step wastewater guide

Both NI and ROI have requirements in place to protect our environment, specifically water quality and human health. Cathal Keane of Graf outlines how to comply.

How do I get a wastewater system installed in NI?

To get an onsite wastewater treatment system installed in NI, the process is straightforward in that you just need a Consent to Discharge from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

The system you choose must meet the requirements as set out in the licence, i.e. the water that is discharged must be certified to have been cleaned to a very high level.

How do I comply with the ROI Code?

In ROI, you need to follow the procedures set out in the 2021 Environmental Protection Agency’s Code of Practice for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Population Equivalent ≤ 10).

If you cannot connect to a sewerage system, you must submit a site characterisation report with your planning application. This report must be compiled in line with the EPA’s Code of Practice.

What is a site characterisation report?

A site characterisation report (sometimes referred to as a percolation test although the report includes more than just the test) determines if your proposed site is suitable to develop on.

The report specifically deals with the ability to deal with onsite wastewater treatment and disposal. This consist of a number of trial holes being excavated.

What is contained in the report?

Included in the report are the results of the Sub Surface and Surface percolation tests.

Also included are recommendations for the type and size of wastewater treatment system needed, e.g. septic tank, wastewater treatment plant, etc., as well as the options for disposal of the discharge from the systems, e.g. percolation trenches, low pressure pipe networks, tertiary filter, etc.

Only a qualified Site Suitability Assessor with adequate professional indemnity insurance can compile the report.

How do I know what system I need?

The site characterisation report will contain the size and type of septic tank and/or wastewater treatment plant you require.

It will also determine the type of percolation system needed, specifying among other things, the area required.

Cathal Keane of Graf

Further reading: More information about wastewater systems and the EPA Code of Practice available here.

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Written by Cathal Keane

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