The primary challenge that Ireland faces over the next decade is to achieve 'good water status' for all waters by 2015 as set out in the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The main threat to surface water quality is eutrophication, which is the over-abundant growth of plant and algae arising from excess nutrients in the water. The nutrients of concern are phosphorus and nitrogen, which come mainly from agricultural manures and fertilisers, sewage and detergents.
Septic Tanks / Treatment Systems
With over 50% of Kilkenny's drinking water supplies being sourced from groundwater while at the same time almost all rural dwellings discharging wastewater to groundwater the potential problems are obvious. Many dwellings have on-site systems (septic tank or proprietary system) discharging to groundwater on the same site as a well extracting groundwater for drinking. In addition there is a legal requirement on Ireland to ensure good water quality for all water bodies, including groundwater, under the EU Water Framework Directive. However a properly designed on-site system will adequately treat wastewater and protect groundwater from contamination once it is regularly maintained.
The Environment Section recently issued an information leaflet on septic tanks / treatment systems to all householders in the County. The leaflet outlines in a simple manner the various issues associated with on-site treatment systems and includes a number of DO's and DON'TS.
Download Kilkenny Local Authority Septic Tank Leaflet (PDF 151 KB)
The EPA have also recently published a new Code of Practice on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems serving Single Houses.
Download the EPA Code of Practice on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems serving Single Houses (PDF 2.6MB)
If you suspect that your on-site system is not functioning properly you should seek advice from a suitably qualified person / agency. In the case of a proprietary treatment system the manufacturer of the system should be contacted. Alternatively, and in the case of a malfunctioning percolation area / polishing filter you may seek advice from a member of Kilkenny County Council's Panel of Approved Site Assessors. This panel of qualified persons was put together for the purposes of carrying out site assessments at planning stage, designing suitable systems and supervising and certifying installation of these. Members of the panel may also be able to advise and suggest possible solutions where on-site systems are not functioning properly. Details of the approved site suitability panel can be viewed here.