Inspection of Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems

The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 introduced a new registration and inspection regime for domestic waste water treatment systems which include septic tanks. The purpose of the legislation is to impose an obligation on owners of such treatment systems to ensure their systems are operating and maintained so as to make certain that they do not pollute the environment. The Act imposes an obligation on each owner of a treatment system to register their system and the Act allows inspections of the treatment systems to be carried out by authorised inspectors.

This Act imposes on the “owner” of a premises connected to a domestic waste water treatment system an obligation to have details of their waste water treatment system entered in a register which is maintained by the water services department of each local authority. To register the owner of the premises must complete a form and pay the relevant registration charge. The water services authority will then enter the details in the register of domestic waste water treatment systems and will issue a Certificate of Registration to the owner. The Certificate of Registration should be kept in a safe place (with the title deeds if possible) as it may be required when the property is being sold. This certificate will be valid for five years, after which time the treatment system must be re-registered and a new certificate obtained.

The registration charge is currently set at €50, but the Act provides that it may be reviewed from time to time by the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government. If registration is completed prior to 28th September, 2012 the registration fee will be €5. All water treatment systems must be registered by 1st February 2013.

The Act provides for inspections to be carried out on treatment systems and inspections are due to commence in 2013. Under the Act the owner of the premises is to be provided with 10 days notice of an inspection. If access to the treatment system is not granted to the inspector this may be deemed an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding €5,000. The Act does not impose an inspection charge on the owner of the premises The inspections will initially concentrate on areas where treatment systems are posing a higher risk of polluting the environment.. If an inspector finds that your system is working properly and being maintained correctly no action will need to be taken by you. If however an inspection of the treatment system deems it to be malfunctioning, an advisory note will issue from the local authority requiring you to take steps to improve your system.

Registration of a treatment system can be made online at or by printing the form on the website, completing it and then submitting it to the Protect Our Water, P.O. Box 12204, Dublin 7. Forms are also available from the local authorities and libraries.  The following details will need to be completed on the form; the names and addresses of the owner(s) of the property and the address of the treatment system

This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by Hammond Good, Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information contained therein. Any and all information is subject to change. For further information on the subject, please contact the author, Joyce A. Good Hammond, at