Water Services Training Group 15th Annual Conference Water Services in Ireland – Organisational modernisation and new challenges 13th October 2011
Waste Water Treatment & Disposal Systems for Single Houses A new Regime – What will it involve? Gerry Galvin Principal Adviser (Water) DECLG
ECJ Case • October 2009, ECJ ruled that Ireland had failed to comply with the Waste Directive regarding domestic waste waters disposed of through individual waste water treatment systems • Consequence for failing to address the Judgment – Lump Sum Penalty of €2.7m plus daily fines of €26,000 per day (> €9.5m per annum) Annual Conference October 2011
ECJ ruling The Directive requires that waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health or harming the environment, and in particular: • without risk to water, air, soil and plants and animals, • without causing a nuisance through noise or odours, • without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.
ECJ Ruling Article 8 of Directive 75/442: ‘Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that any holder of waste: • has it handled by a private or public waste collector or by an undertaking which carries out the operations listed in Annex II A or B, or • recovers or disposes of it himself in accordance with the provisions of this Directive.’
OSWTS • Multi-sectoral response required e.g. water policy, quality, planning & building control within DECLG • Working group set up with reps from these sections to advise on co-ordinated response
ECJ ruling • Ireland’s defence - argued that domestic waste waters not covered by the Waste Directive • Cited body of existing legislation including Public Health Acts, Water Pollution Acts, Building Control Acts and Regulations, Planning and Development Acts and Water Services Act
ECJ ruling - response • ECJ did not accept Ireland’s defence • Court noted that bye-laws in County Cavan meet the requirements of the directive • Would bye-laws in every county be the appropriate response?
ECJ Ruling - response • Key features of the Cavan bye-laws: • Apply to all systems (old and new) • Set standards – compliance with EPA manual • Provide for periodic inspection by a competent person (7 years) • Provide for remedial works and establish penalties for non-compliance
Task Force • Working Group extended to include CCMA & EPA • Advise in respect of legislation required • Advise on development of Performance Standards • Advise on Training Needs for inspection regime • National Rural Water Committee added in 2010
ECJ Ruling - response • Discussions with legal advisers & EU Commission • Not considered practical for compliance to be pursued through the adoption of bye-laws by all the other local authorities. • To ensure uniform standards it was proposed to take a national approach to this issue.
Implications for Households • Census 2006 – 441,000 households served by a septic tank or other on-site treatment system • Water Services Act 2007 places a duty of care on the occupier of a premises or, if unoccupied, the owner, to ensure that waste water from the premises does not cause nuisance or risk to human health or the environment. • EPA Code of Practice – recommends annual de-sludging and regular, ongoing maintenance
Ireland’s Response • Performance standards – to apply to all systems • Establish a robust system for monitoring and assessment • Consultations with the key stakeholders • Prepare legislation and submit to Government • Ongoing dialogue with EU Commission
International Practice Review • Northern Ireland – c. 120,000 • Scotland – c. 150,000 • Finland – c. 300,000 • Czech Republic – c. 150,000
Stakeholder Consultation • 190 bodies invited to participate by issue of questionnaire • Environmental Groups • Industry • Local Authorities • Government Departments • Professional Bodies • State Agencies • 52 responses received • Intended to publish all submissions later this year
Proposed Regime • Owners required to register OSWTS • Local authorities to maintain register with EPA holding a national register • On-line registration is being developed • Facility also for paper registration • Registration fee of €50 • Registration to be valid for 5 years • Registration process will commence in 2012
Inspection Regime • EPA to draw up national inspection plan • Plan to be proportionate and risk-based • Targeted to areas where drinking water sources or habitats are likely to be, or have been, impacted upon by discharges from OSWTS
Inspection Regime • E.g. Inspections • 1% = 5,000 per annum • 2% = 10,000 per annum • Will target both registered and unregistered OSWTS • EPA approved Inspectors • Competency criteria for Inspectors will be specified in Regulations • Inspections will commence in 2013
Inspections • Improved maintenance • Remediation • Upgrading • Possible options for financial support will be considered in context of overall budgetary situation and financial position of individual households
Legislation • New Bill will be published in next few weeks with full details • Following enactment, new Regulations to put in place to commence the regime • Training programme for inspectors is being developed in conjunction with WSTG