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Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1623-1642; doi:10.3390/su6031623

Application of On-Site Wastewater Treatment in Ireland and Perspectives on Its Sustainability

Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 17 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
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The wastewater of one third of Ireland’s population is treated on-site using domestic treatment systems (DWWTSs) that usually consist of a septic tank and soil attenuation system. Within the past four years, the legislative framework for these systems has undergone a major change with a registration and inspection regime being introduced to identify legacy sites that will require remediation work, particularly in areas of the country underlain by subsoils of very low permeability. Against this background this study aims to assess the overall sustainability of existing DWWTSs as well as alternative treatment and disposal options. The results show that main CO2eq emissions are from the methane production in septic tanks. The reduced methane production in mechanically aerated secondary treatment systems was found to counterbalance the related emissions due to the additional energy requirements. In contrast, septic tank systems have the lowest construction and operational costs representing the most economically sustainable solution. Pressurised disposal systems are slightly more expensive but have the potential to reduce environmental impact on surface water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Clustered decentralised treatment solutions could be environmentally and economically sustainable but ownership, management and related financial and legal issues will need to be addressed and developed.
Keywords: septic tank; on-site wastewater; greenhouse gas; energy; water saving septic tank; on-site wastewater; greenhouse gas; energy; water saving

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Dubber, D.; Gill, L. Application of On-Site Wastewater Treatment in Ireland and Perspectives on Its Sustainability. Sustainability 2014, 6, 1623-1642.

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