Saturday, August 4, 2012

Septic Tank Inspections Start in Six Months Time

Inspections of septic tanks and small household systems will commence in February 2013. The performance standards, essentially that they do not cause a risk to human health or the environment, are explained in the Water Services Acts 2007 and 2012 (Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems) Regulations 2012. (Link). For the first time regulations have been set for the operation and maintenance of systems including frequency of de-sludging.

There will be some complex issues arising, one will be odours. The problem is that if the tank is properly vented then odours will be released either at the tank level or at the sewer vent at the roof top…so odour generation becomes a complex issue of wind direction, speed and temperature. The crust formation on the tank does reduce odours but with more frequent desludging and less scum developing due to greater detergent use and less use of heavy fats and oils…then crust formation is slower to form and less developed leading to odour release. To quote from the department of the Environment webpage: ‘There is no question of imposing modern standards, for example those set out in the EPA’s 2009 Code of Practice, to older systems. Nor is there any question of householders having to acquire additional land to facilitate remediation work. Where an on-site system fails an inspection, the remediation work required will be based on factors such as the nature of the problem, the extent of risk to public health or the environment, existing site size and the hydrological and geological conditions present’.

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