sewage treatment in cork and munster

Why the move to EPA Site Assessments’ from SR6 percolation Tests?


Prior to 2000, sites for one off houses in most Counties were assessed in accordance with SR6: Septic Tank Systems: Recommendations for Domestic Effluent Treatment and Disposal from a Single Dwelling House. This document originally dates back to the mid 1970’s and, despite being updated in 1991, it was still considered to be outdated in that it dealt only with septic tank systems and did not provide guidance on more modern systems of wastewater treatment. It also did not take account of the greatly increased volumes of wastewater produced in modern households as a result of modern living standards and the almost universal use of appliances such as automatic washing machines and dishwashers etc. In addition, the standards contained in SR6 were not considered to provide a high enough level of protection of groundwater, surface water or public health.
The EPA Manual “Single House Treatment Systems”, which was published in 2000, provides detailed guidance on how sites should be assessed and how systems should be designed so as to improve the level of protection afforded to both the aquatic environment and public health. The system of site assessment required under the EPA document involves several elements:

1. A desk study which looks at available documented information on a site. This includes information on the soils, geology, location of wells and streams etc.

2. A visual assessment, which involves looking at the site and its surroundings to gain an indication of how well or poorly drained a site is likely to be and what targets are likely to be at risk in the area (e.g. rivers and streams bounding a site, public or private wells in close proximity to the site).

3. On-site investigations including an assessment of the soil profile up to a depth of 2m, or greater in some cases, and percolation tests to confirm the drainage conditions

4. Recommendations as to the form of wastewater treatment, if any, is best suited to the site conditions.

Assessing sites and designing systems in accordance with the EPA Manual, rather than SR6, involves a much greater investment of time and a greater range of skills and expertise. It was not possible for the Council and Local Authorities’ to provide this service either directly or through the agency of the HSE and so it was necessary to move to a system of approved private assessors, employed directly by the applicant.