AIE: Site locations of domestic waste water inspections

Under the AIE Regs to request the following dataset of geographic locations of national septic tank inspections

As per EPA website

https://gis.epa.ie/geonetwork/srv/api/records/8a5209fe-554e-4f09-952c-2e596f813292

The following link (as above) is a dataset that “represents the site locations of Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems where inspections have been carried out under the National Inspection Plan.

These locations have been captured by Local Authority Inspectors as part of the process of logging inspection details within the Domestic Waste Water Application

The dataset is used by EPA to create various pdf reports but the actual GIS data does not appear to be in the public domain

Statement on the dataset suggests that the locations in this dataset are captured using an integrated map part within the Domestic Waste Water Application whereby the Inspector selects the location on the map. Alternatively, the Inspector can enter the coordinates manually at which point the application then displays the location on the map for verification.

Please provide the data in the GIS format as collected

Note this is not a request for the inspection plans themselves, the annual reports or a breakout by Local Authority areas. It is a request for the mapping data of the inspections

If the dataset includes additional non-confidential fields along with the inspection locations (like the date of the inspection) please include in the file

AIE Request, (24/3/22)

Domestic Waste Water Application: Module in EPAs EDEN System

This Module is the system used by local authority inspectors to log inspected domestic waste water inspections (septic tanks)

This dataset represents the site locations of Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems where inspections have been carried out under the National Inspection Plan.

https://gis.epa.ie/geonetwork/srv/api/records/8a5209fe-554e-4f09-952c-2e596f813292

These locations have been captured by Local Authority Inspectors as part of the process of logging inspection details within the Domestic Waste Water Application

The locations in this dataset are captured using an integrated map part within the Domestic Waste Water Application whereby the Inspector selects the location on the map. Alternatively, the Inspector can enter the coordinates manually at which point the application then displays the location on the map for verification.

There are a number of datasets available as decision support tools to assist with the implementation of the National Inspection Plan 2018 – 2021 here:

https://gis.epa.ie/geonetwork/srv/search?keyword=domestic%20waste%20water

Groody Priority Area for Action Desktop Report

LAWPRO

Feb 2020

The Groody river flows into the lower Shannon. The area includes part of the Ballyneety groundwater body, which is the drinking water supply for Caherconlish.

Agriculture and diffuse urban runoff: phosphate, ammonia and organic pollution

Diffuse urban pressures are mainly caused by misconnections, leaking sewers and runoff from paved and unpaved areas.

Channelisation and drainage has taken place that have resulted in loss of river habitat and changes to the flow regime.

Septic tanks in the upper reaches of this river are inadequate

Hydromorphology example:

Background Note from Water Advisory Unit (part of Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage) on Domestic Septic Tanks

On 29 October 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled against Ireland in relation to the treatment of domestic waste waters from septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems. 

The Court ruled that, with the exception of bye-laws in County Cavan, Irish legislation did not transpose Articles 4 and 8 of Directive 75/442/EEC (the Waste Directive) insofar as domestic waste waters from such on-site treatment systems are concerned.

The Court ruled that the existing legislation only partially provided the protections required by the Directive in relation to on-site waste-water treatment systems. Specifically, the Court highlighted the absence of an appropriate system of inspection for such systems.

A response setting out Ireland’s proposed legislative response issued to the Commission in December 2009.  Following the ruling the Department worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and with officials from a number of local authorities on developing proposals to address the ruling and provide for a system of inspection.

The issues raised from the 2009 European Court of Justice ruling have since been addressed by various pieces of legislation. These include the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012, Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems Regulations (e.g. SI 220 of 2012 and SI 223 of 2012), and the introduction of the National Inspection Plan for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems to support these regulations.  Regulations can be found on the Irish Statute book website at https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/

Current details regarding Domestic waste water treatment systems (septic tanks) can be found on the Rural Water section of the Department’s website at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/6cc1e-domestic-waste-water-treatment-systems-septic-tanks/

In terms of Ireland’s obligations, the EU Water Framework Directive, which was adopted in October 2000, is now the relevant piece of environmental legislation requiring implementation to protect our waters and it lays down very detailed requirements for the management and improvement of water quality.

These include the requirement that member states must put a programme of measures in place to protect and, where necessary, restore to at least good status all bodies of surface water and groundwater within prescribed timeframes.

To implement this requirement, member states are required to prepare “River Basin Management Plans” every 6 years. These plans must, amongst other requirements, set out the environmental improvements that will be delivered during the river basin planning cycle in question and describe the programme of measures that will be implemented to meet the objectives set out in the plan.

Details relating to the Water Framework Directive are available on the Water Advisory Units section on the Department’s website at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/f7c76-water-framework-directive/

Details of the most recent plan can be found at:https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/429a79-river-basin-management-plan-2018-2021/ and details of public consultation on the draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027 can be found at the following link: www.gov.ie/draftRBMP

POMs (Programmne of Measures) agreed on septic tanks

Ireland has EU obligations in relation to water pollution from septic tanks

Is there any research on the national and catchment level impact of septic tanks ?

There was a POMs (Programmne of Measures) agreed after a court case that set out what Ireland is required to do to rectify the septic tank failings identified in the proceedings ?

Extract from presentation entitled

Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems: Expansion of Grant Scheme
Colin Byrne, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

Full presentation is here:

National Inspection Plan 2018-2021: Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems

This report outlines the proposed third national inspection plan for domestic waste water treatment systems (DWWTS) for the period 2018 to 2021.

The Water Services Act 2007, as amended by the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 requires the EPA to prepare a national inspection plan for DWWTS. The purpose of the plan is to protect human health and water quality from the risks posed by DWWTS (also known as septic tank systems).


The EPA prepared the first national inspection plan for DWWTS in 2013 covering the period 2013 to 2014. The plan required local authorities to undertake a minimum of 1,000 inspections each year across the country. The EPA developed a risk based methodology to assist the local authorities with the selection of locations for inspections. The methodology took into account the potential risks that DWWTS pose to both human health and water quality.


The second national inspection plan for DWWTS in 2015 outlined the inspection process covering the period 2015 to 2017. Some minor changes were made to the risk maps used for site selection as additional environmental data had become available. This also resulted in a slight change to the number of inspections in some counties.

This third plan has been prepared for the years 2018 to 2021. The risk-based methodology has been updated to take into account additional information gathered on water quality during the preparation of the River Basin Management Plan 2018 – 2021. Further information on the revised methodology is provided in section 2 of this report.


The minimum number of inspections across the country remains at a 1,000 inspections per annum. However, the minimum number of inspections required in each local authority area has changed in response to the revised methodology and further details are provided in section 3 of this report. The final number of inspections remains a matter for each local authority. Additional inspections should be carried out where evidence exists that DWWTS are causing an issue in a particular catchment.

Under the national inspection plan local authority inspectors are required to undertake a minimum number of inspections each year. Any shortfall in the number of inspections completed at the end of the 2015 to 2017 reporting period will be carried over and added to the number of inspections to be undertaken in 2018.

Close to half of all inspection failures have been related to the operation, maintenance and desludging of DWWTS.

Private wells may be at risk of contamination if the DWWTS are not sited, installed or operated correctly (in 2016, it was found that 51% of DWWTS, with private wells on site, failed inspection).

Note:

Local authorities must maintain a register of all complaints and other inspections, such as water pollution incident investigations, that relate to DWWTS. But this file is not in the public domain

Likelihood of Inadequate Percolation

Potential risk to groundwater supplies from DWWTS

National inspection plan 10 risk zones map

Minimum number of inspections by county


Percolation tests for site assessment for domestic wastewater treatment systems

Project AttributeProject Details
Project TitlePercolation tests for site assessment for domestic wastewater treatment systems
EPA Project Code2019-W-DS-35
Lead OrganisationUniversity of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD)
CoordinatorLaurence Gill
EPA Research 2014 – 2020 Theme(s)Water: Theme 4: Understanding, Managing and Conserving our Water Resources
EPA Research Pillars
Project Start and End DatesStart: 02/03/2020
End (if applicable): 01/03/2021
Revised End Date (if applicable): 01/06/2021
EPA Project TypeDesk Study
EPA Award TypeSTRIVE – Project Based Awards
Current Project StatusGrant Awarded
Total Funding Amount90131.20
Project Abstract/DescriptionThis research will evaluate different methods of how to assess the percolation characteristics of soils as part of the site assessment process used for the design domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWS). Currently, site assessment (and subsequent DWWTS design) is prescribed in the EPA Code of Practice (EPA, 2009) which requires an on-site falling head percolation test, known nationally as the T-test, to be carried out. However, this method has limitations for more low permeability subsoils and so an alternative method needs to be evaluated. Several different approaches can be taken to determine a soil’s saturated hydraulic conductivity, either by percolation tests (carried out in the laboratory or in the field) or via soil size distribution analysis. The project will focus on a review of the different methodologies used internationally and also provide a clear explanation of the theoretical background for water percolation. It will then investigate the Irish situation specifically and translate the existing data / findings in to a proposed new approach to site assessment and associated percolation testing, in addition to how it might be incorporated into the Code of Practice, in order to overcome the issues with the existing falling head test for low permeability subsoils. As set out in the Communication Plan (see Section C of the proposal) the project will produce the following: a Final report for the EPA, a minimum of 1 peer-reviewed publication in a high quality international journal, and a database of over 800 falling head test and around 20 constant head percolation tests carried out across the country which will be compiled for EPA and stored on its Research Data Archive (SAFER). In addition, the project will set up a Stakeholder advisory group of members hopefully representing the following organisations: EPA, Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), Local Authorities, An Bord Pleanala, Geological Survey Ireland, Site Assessors, National Standards Association of Ireland (NSAI), Irish Onsite Wastewater Association (IOWA), Irish Water Treatment Association (IWTA), National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS) and Irish Water.
EPA Scientific OfficerKarenRoche