Nearly Half of Ireland’s Septic Tanks Are Faulty

Ireland's septic tanks

Nearly Half of Ireland’s Septic Tanks Are Faulty

Septic tanks treat and release household wastewater in areas not connected to public sewers. A recent report shows that in 2023, nearly half of Ireland’s septic tanks did not pass inspections. Faulty septic tanks can harm human health and the environment.


Domestic Wastewater Treatment in Ireland

Ireland has about half a million domestic wastewater treatment systems, mainly septic tanks. These systems are crucial for homes that don’t have access to public sewage services. The process starts with household wastewater entering the septic tank system. Solid waste settles down as sludge, which must be removed to prevent clogging. The liquid waste travels into a network of shallow underground pipes (called a percolation area). The pipes have small holes that release the liquid to filter down through the soil. The liquid is naturally treated as it moves through the soil before reaching the groundwater below.


Ireland’s Septic Tanks: Findings and Failures

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a National Inspection Plan for septic tanks. This plan requires 1,200 inspections yearly. The EPA’s most recent report showed that 45% of Ireland’s septic tanks didn’t meet the acceptable standards in 2023. Reasons for inspection failure included poor tank maintenance and lack of tank desludging. Septic tank leaks and improper discharge of effluent were also significant concerns.

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Reasons for septic tank inspection failures in 2023


Health and Environmental Risks of Faulty Septic Tanks

There are around 165,000 homes in Ireland with both a septic tank system and a drinking water well. Faulty septic tanks can pollute these wells, making people sick. Additionally, leaking tanks can expose people to raw sewage, which is very dangerous. Excessive release of nutrients from poorly treated wastewater can also cause water pollution. Nitrogen and phosphorous build-up in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters threatens aquatic life.


Tackling the Problem of Ireland’s Septic Tanks 

Despite notices given to homeowners, many problems with septic tanks remain unfixed for years. The EPA says local authorities need to take stronger action to ensure faulty septic tanks are repaired quickly. To help with this, the government has increased grants for fixing septic tanks from €5,000 to €12,000 in 2024. To reduce the risks associated with faulty septic tanks, homeowners can:

  1. Make sure septic tanks are built and maintained properly.
  2. Test the drinking water from their household wells.
  3. Use the available grants to repair their septic tanks.
  4. Get advice from the EPA website.


Conclusion for Maintenance of Ireland’s Septic Tanks

Septic tank owners can protect human and environmental health by taking proactive steps. Southern Scientific can also help homeowners reduce the risks from faulty septic tanks. We offer drinking water testing to check if household wells are safe. We also test septic tank effluent to ensure it meets regulations.


Follow the links for more information on our drinking water or effluent testing!

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