More septic tanks failed government inspections in 2016 than in 2015, according to the ROI Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) review of the National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems.

The report published today (14 November 2017) shows that 49 per cent of  septic tanks failed inspection in 2016, up from 45 per cent in 2015.

Most of the failures were due to a lack of proper operation and maintenance with a quarter of septic tanks failing due to owners not removing sludge build-up from their tanks.

Homeowners must ensure all parts of their onsite wastewater treatment system are performing as they should. 

Also concerning was the fact that half the sites with a septic tank and a private drinking water well onsite failed inspection, even though inadequately maintained septic tanks are likely to pollute waterways and private drinking water wells.

Commenting on the results Mr. Darragh Page, Programme Manager of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement said: “Homeowners may be putting themselves, their families and their neighbours at risk of ill health if they do not maintain their septic tank system adequately. There are simple steps that homeowners can take to ensure their system is managed properly and will pass an inspection.  These include: having the sludge emptied from the tank on a regular basis, using a permitted contractor and retaining the receipt and, if the homeowner has a package treatment system, having it regularly serviced and keeping a record of servicing.”

The National Inspection Plan is  implemented by local authorities under the supervision of the EPA.