Septic tank grant in ROI more than doubles

SuSanA Secretariat, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The grant to upgrade your septic tank in ROI more than doubles to €12k, with eligibility criteria loosened.

In this article we cover:

  • Who qualifies
  • When changes take effect
  • How much it costs to upgrade a septic tank
  • Why the grant system isn’t working at the moment

Grants available to repair or replace faulty on site wastewater treatment systems in ROI are increasing to €12,000 from €5,000, the Department of Housing announced on November 4, 2023.

The grants were originally only available to those who failed a septic tank inspection; in 2020 the grant was widened to any septic tank installed in a high risk area.

Another requirement was to have had your septic tank registered with your local authority before February 1st 2013. To qualify for the grant you will no longer need to prove your septic tank is registered, however it is unclear if the grant will continue to only apply to those in high risk areas.

The changes will take effect from January 1st 2024.

“The increase in Grant Aid is welcomed, however the current requirements where it’s only applicable in the case of an inspection or being in either the ‘High Status Objective Area’ or ‘River Basin Management plan’ is not sufficient,” Graf Ireland Environmental‘s Managing Director Cathal Keane told Selfbuild.

“Systems which are known to be faulty are not being upgraded in the hope that they will get an inspection and qualify for the grants. I look forward to clarity on the qualification required for this improved grant aid.”

He adds that based on the work they’ve done, the cost of repairing or replacing an existing septic tank “can vary greatly depending on the site but €8,000 to €15,000 would probably be the range”.  

Selfbuild has sent a request to the Department of Housing for clarification on who will qualify for the enhanced grant.

The grant level is based on 85 per cent of eligible works up to the maximum grant available.

Domestic wastewater treatment systems collect, treat and discharge wastewater from households that are not connected to a mains sewerage system. Many self-builders who build their home in the countryside need an onsite wastewater treatment system as few mains connections tend to be available.

All septic tanks must be registered with local authorities who may inspect them to ensure they do not pollute waterways, soil and river streams.

Half of all septic tanks inspected by local authorities last year failed inspection, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The state agency argues fixing septic tanks is “taking too long”, as inspections every year show poor performance.

More than 1,100 inspections were completed last year and there are nearly half a million systems in operation in ROI. Structural defects and lack of maintenance were the most common reasons for failure.

Fine print

UPDATE: The Department of Housing tells Selfbuild the grant will continue to only apply to those who live in a high risk area or who have failed a septic tank inspection. Specifically work for remediation, repair, upgrade or replacement of a domestic wastewater treatment system serving a house is available under three scenarios:

  1. An Advisory Notice has been received, following the failure of an inspection carried out a local authority under the National Inspection Plan;
  2. The DWWTS serves a house which is situated in a Prioritised Area for Action, as under the River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021; or
  3. The DWWTS serves a house which is situated in a High Status Objective Catchment Areas, as under the River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021.

“The regulations to support these changes will be published in the coming weeks, along with the terms and conditions,” the spokesperson said on November 9th, 2023.

Funding for the grants is provided under the Department’s Rural Water Programme, which is administered by local authorities on behalf of the Department.  Householders who are eligible for the grant must apply to the local authority in which their wastewater treatment system is located.

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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