More than a quarter of domestic water treatment systems inspected last year posed a risk to human health, a new report revealed on Thursday.
And worryingly, the same ratio (26%) were deemed to present a considerable threat to the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2019 National Inspection Plan also found that 51% of systems were failing altogether.
An EPA spokesman said: “While there has been progress, the failure to resolve older cases remains a concern and must be addressed as priority.”
The primary reasons for negative evaluation outcomes were structural defects where systems were not built properly and a lack of maintenance and regular desludging.
The report revealed almost three-quarters (73%) of fixed systems failed inspections between 2013 and 2016.
Meanwhile, 27% of domestic waste treatment systems inspected during the last seven years were still not fixed.
Mary Mulcahy, of Ireland Waste Water (IWW), who insisted more rigorous testing was needed, said: “The statistics in the EPAs most recent report are stark and they are a testament to the fact that there is not enough is being done on building awareness the problems and of supports available to uphold standards.
“One of the major challenges is that local authorities, engineers and homeowners themselves are ultimately responsible for maintaining these standards on a daily basis, yet neither has enough knowledge or know-how to do so.”
IWW stressed Ireland needs better management of septic water systems.
The organisation also stated the Government needs to ensure better understanding of the importance of good waste water treatment systems and the risks of poor management.
IWW insisted there are two primary issues affecting the quality of water in various, particularly rural, locations around the country – namely, the improper spreading of slurry and the below-par maintenance of household septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems.
Ms Mulcahy added: “The duty of care cannot rest solely with the homeowner, because this is the current state of play and we can see from this report and others before it, that there are far too many domestic waste water treatment systems not meeting the standards – and the cost to the public and the environment is just too great to ignore.
“The potential for environmental pollution and a negative impact on the health of the nation is great and, as contamination of water could have disastrous consequences for those affected, these issues need to be dealt with the gravitas they deserve.
“It is imperative that Government and the relevant bodies review and engage with homeowners on grants and support available in order to incentivise the critical need for improvement and keep their foot on the gas when it comes to ensuring clean, safe water in this country in 2020 and beyond”.
IWW insisted there are two primary issues affecting the quality of water in various, particularly rural, locations around the country – namely, the improper spreading of slurry and the sub-par maintenance of household septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems.”