Wastewater Management in Rural Areas

Management of rural wastewater mostly involves on-site treatment as there is often no interconnecting means of treating numerous residences in the countryside.In Ireland, wastewater from almost 500,000 dwellings is treated by on-site systems (CSO, 2011). On-site systems can be subdivided into two broad categories:mechanical aeration systems and septic tank systems.

The mechanical aeration systems include biofilm aerated (BAF) systems, rotating biological contactor (RBC) systems, and sequencing batch reactor (SBR) systems. In these systems micro-organisms feed on organic materials to stabilise them, and reduce biological oxygen demand and suspended solids in the wastewater.

The septic tank systemconsists of a septic tank followed by a soil percolation area. As an alternative to a conventional percolation area the effluent from a septic tank can be treated by filter systems such as mound or reed beds with sand, peat, plastic or reed filters followed by polishing filters. Thesepolishing filters reduce the level of micro-organisms and nutrients in the wastewater.

In 2010, the EPA published a Code of Practice for Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems Serving Single Homes seeking planning permission.

Rural Water Programme

A Rural Water Programme is administered by the local authorities which addresses deficiencies in rural sewerage schemes as well as group water schemes and private water supplies. It provides a grant of up to 75% of cost to group sewerage schemes. This is subject to a maximum grant of €2,031.58 per house where a group of houses provide shared sewerage collection.

Further information on the Rural Water Programme is available on the website of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

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