History of the wastewater industry in Ireland

In 1975 the Department of the Environment published Ireland’s first set of recommendations for single-dwelling domestic effluent treatment and disposal systems.

In 1991 a revised version SR6:1991was published by NSAI and was given the force of law when incorporated, on 1st June 1992, into part H of the Building Regulations. These regulations called up BS6297:1983 for groups of houses. During the 1980’s package sewage treatment plants came on the market and the NSAI developed, in conjunction with Biocycle Ltd, an Agrement Certification procedure involving rigorous performance testing of a sewage treatment plant and its recommended method of effluent disposal. The first such certificate was issued in to Biocycle Ltd.

Until recently the only statutory control in the system was applied at the planning stage i.e. did the planning application conform to SR6:1991 or to an Irish Agrement Certificate. The remaining parts of the system involving site suitability tests, treatment and disposal system design, installation, certification and on-going maintenance were, in the main, self regulated. Slowly it became obvious that self regulation was not effective resulting in a large number of on-site treatment systems polluting our groundwater. The EPA published a draft manual in 2000 followed by a Code of Practice in 2010. These were intended to regulate all aspects of the process and will replace SR6:1991 in the currently being revised Building Regulations. In addition, EN 12566 parts 1 + 3 have been transposed into Irish Law; these provide a procedure for verifying the performance of septic tanks and package sewage treatment plants, respectively.