DWWTS Inspections and Enforcement 2019

See below a review and summary of the Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (DWWTS) Inspections and Enforcement 2019 by the EPA, published in 2020.

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Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems: DWWTS Inspections and Enforcement 2019 by the EPA.


​DWWTS are Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems, most commonly known as septic tanks or wastewater treatment plants. They are used by households to treat wastewater when a connection to the mains is not possible.

If not built, operated or maintained properly, DWWTS can pollute the environment, such as nearby rivers, lakes and coastal water. A faulty wastewater treatment system can also contaminate household wells with harmful bacteria and viruses.

Since 2013, the National Inspection Plan (NPI) has been put in place for local authorities to inspect over 1000 systems each year. Additional assessments are being carried out by specialist local authority teams in priority areas to identify DWWTS that may be a risk to water quality. This is part of the actions set out in Ireland in the River Basin Management Plan 2018 – 2021 to protect and improve rivers, lakes and coastal areas.

The summary below relates to the 2019 results and report by the EPA.

Key findings for 2019

  • 51% of systems failed and 26% were a risk to human health or the environment.
  • 73% of the systems that failed have been fixed.
  • 26% of the systems inspected in 2019 were a risk to human health or to the environment

Reasons for failures:

  • Not maintained (30%)
  • Not desludged (25%)
  • Discharging illegally to ditches/streams (17%)
  • Leaking (13%)
  • Rainwater ingress (10%)
  • Effluent ponding (9%)

Note: an individual DWWTS can fail for multiple reasons.

Full document available on the epa website.

If your current wastewater treatment system is leaking and you’re looking for a replacement solution, get in touch with us today to discuss your project, requirements, and what solutions are available to you.

We would recommend you also take on a maintenance contract with Tricel or its agents/distributors to ensure your wastewater treatment system is kept in good working order.

Please note that desludging should always be done by a licensed waste collection company. More information on our dedicated page.

DWWTS Inspections and Enforcement 2019, the Local Authority Enforcement

The local authorities have issued advisory notices requiring the systems that fail inspection to be fixed.

Efforts are being made for failures to be fixed as well as older unresolved issues.

Some local authorities have taken legal actions for failure to fix DWWTS since the NPI started.

Homeowners, what should you do?

In order to make sure people’s health and the environment are not at risk, householders should ensure that DWWTS are:

  • Built properly
  • Maintained including desludging
  • Wells are tested (to protect the health of your family)

The last point is especially relevant is if your wastewater treatment system is located near a well, or if the effluent is ponding in the garden or being discharged to ditches/streams.


More information and guidance on the epa website:

Read more information about the distances to respect from a septic tank to a house.

What grants are available in 2024?

Domestic waste water treatment systems financial assistance

Grants of up to €12,000 are available to fix Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (DWWTS) that come under 3 categories:
  1. NPI (National Inspection Plan)
  2. PPA (Priority Areas for Action)
  3. HSOCA (High Status Objective Catchment Areas)
More information available about DWWTS grants on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s website. Related articles:

Private wells financial assistance

Under the Rural Water Programme, grants are available for improvement works to a private water supply (a water supply providing water intended for human consumption and domestic purposes that serves only one house). Key features of the scheme:
  • 85% of approved costs subject to a maximum of 3,000 euro for rehabilitation work.
  • 85% of approved costs, subject to a maximum of 5,000 euro (where the housing authority agrees that this is the most appropriate solution) for a new well.
  • Water quality treatment element (typically filtration and Ultra Violet treatment) qualifies for 100% funding up to a maximum of 1,000 euro. Can be claimed on its own or in addition to either the grant for rehabilitation works or the grant for a new well.
  • Minimum grant threshold is 750 euro.
More information available about the Household well grant on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s website. Source: full document available on the EPA website.

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