Dáil Éireann - Volume 393 - 21 November, 1989

Written Answers. - Ground Water Pollution.

127. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for the Environment if he has any plans for dealing with the level of septic tank pollution of ground water in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): The IIRS publication: S.R.6:1975, Recommendations for Septic Tank Drainage Systems Suitable for Single Houses, refers to the test procedures for setting up a suitable site for installing a septic tank and subsurface percolation system. It is the practice among local authorities, on the advice of my Department, to use these recommendations in the assessment of planning applications which include septic tank [1039] drainage arrangements. The effluent from septic tanks is a potential water pollutant and localised problems may arise where tanks are not adequately maintained or are sited too close to wells.

Drinking water from both ground and surface water sources must meet stringent chemical and microbiological quality standards, and in devising monitoring regimes for purposes of implementing the drinking water regulations, sanitary authorities have been asked to consider all possible influencing factors on the quality of water.

I would also refer the Deputy to my response to his Questions, Nos. 50 and 51 of 2 November in connection with nitrates in ground water.

128. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for the Environment if he is satisfied that the Drinking Water Quality Act, 1988 is functioning satisfactorily; if he will make a statement on the functioning of the Act, the controls which he has in place, the frequency and monitoring of the Act by his Department; and whether any prosecutions have taken place or are pending at present.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I presume that the Deputy is referring to the European Communities (Quality of Water Intended for Human Consumption) Regulations, 1988. These regulations gave full effect in Irish law to all of the requirements of the EC Drinking Water Directive (80/778/EEC). It is a matter for the sanitary authorities to ensure that the quality standards set out in the regulations are complied with. For monitoring purposes, patterns of standard analyses and minimum sampling frequencies are prescribed and a handbook on implementation of the regulations has been circulated by my Department to the sanitary authorities. Any failure by a sanitary authority to carry out its duties under the regulations would be dealt with under the general local government code rather than by prosecution in the courts.