LIMERICK County Council is expected to carry out just 50 inspections of septic tanks between now and July of next year, it has emerged
And the Department of the Environment has set a national target of just 1,000 inspections.
Meanwhile, over 4,000 households in the county have not yet registered, despite the fact that not doing so leaves them open to prosecution and a possible fine of up to €5,000.
It also means they are ruled out from applying for a grant in the event their septic tank is found to be faulty.
The first inspections of tanks in the county will not, however, take place until later this month or early next month. And householders who are to face inspections will be given a ten-day warning.
The council is waiting for legislation covering the grants to be published before it begins any inspections, senior engineer in the environment section, Anne Goggin told the Limerick Leader this week.
The outlines of the scheme have been made public, she said, but so far, the regulations and forms are not available.
Grants will be made available to households with faulty septic tanks, provided they registered before last February 1.
A grant of €4,000 or 80% of the rehabilitation costs will be available to households with incomes under €50,000 while a grant of €2,500 or 50% of the costs will be open to those with incomes between €50-75,000. .
“We have been told we have to prioritise inspections of unregistered tanks in the targeted risk areas,” Ms Goggin said.
Meanwhile however, the council is finalising its own local inspection plan which must comply with the guidelines worked out by the Environmental Protection Agency and published online in its national inspection plan.
An excellent national risk-assessment has been undertaken, Ms Goggin explained, and the country has been mapped for risk with each local authority assigned a minimum number of inspections it must carry out in the first year.
A map of high risk areas in each county, including Limerick, has been drawn up and each local authority has been assigned a minimum number of inspections in each risk-area.
Limerick County Council, like other councils, is expected to focus on those areas where discharges of waste water pose the highest risks to health or the environment.
Inspectors will check that septic tanks are registered and not leaking and that the component parts are in working order.
They will also be ensuring that effluent is not “ponding” on the surface of the ground and that rainwater and clean surface water are not entering the system.
In addition, the inspection will involve checking whether desludging has taken place and ensuring that there is no discharge to any surface water without a licence.