O'Leary, Terry (2015) The Development of a Knowledge Model for Home Owners to Better Understand and Manage Their On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In Ireland many people live in homes that are rurally located and not connected to public wastewater treatment systems. Where this is the case, the treatment of the wastewater produced must be undertaken by a private on-site wastewater treatment system (OSWTS). Properly built and maintained private on-site wastewater treatment systems can treat effluent in an ecologically sound manner and return the water to the environment. Nevertheless, inappropriately designed, installed and maintained systems can lead to the contamination of ground and surface water resources (Gray 1994; Daly, 2001; Flynn & Kroger, 2003; Gray, 2004; Gill et al, 2005; EPA, 2008; Daly & Craig, 2009 & Gormley, 2009). Such contamination can lead to significant threats to human health as well environmental degradation.
The very high dependence by Ireland on these OSWTS’s for domestic wastewater treatment means that it is imperative that the performance and management of the systems is effective and robust. Unfortunately however there is evidence that a huge proportion of OSWTS’s are poorly managed, maintained and operated (EU, 2008; IOWA 2012 & GSI, 2013). This poor performance and management of OSWTS’s has resulted in significant prosecutions and fines for Ireland by the EU with clear and unambiguous conditions set down for what Ireland needs to do to avoid further sanctions.
The existing legislation in Ireland for OSWTS’s and some recent amendments as a consequence of the prosecutions by the EU have made it very clear that the ultimate responsility lies with the homeowner for their wastewater treatment system. Provision is made in the legislation for a new inspection reigeme that will seek to identify pollution from OSWTS’s and attempt to mitigate the contamination of ground and surface waters in accordance with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). This new inspection reigeme and the revisions to the legislation are required for Ireland to comply with the directions of the ECJ ruling (C188-08) in relation to OSWTS’s and so that the daily fines being imposed against Ireland are suspended.
There has been little time available on foot of the ECJ (2008) ruling to educate homeowners on how they should be properly managing and maintaining their OSWTS’s to ensure that they operating effectively and efficiently. Existing research has identified that even where homeowners are aware of their responsibilities towards their OSWTS that they tend not to care with an ‘out of sight out of mind attitude (Gray, 2004). Clearly therefore the issue facing Ireland is not just a knowledge deficiency towards OSWTS’s but also a beahavioural change issue where people tend not to care about how their OSWTS performs.
This thesis will examine the evolution of legislation in Ireland relating to OSWTS’s and how circumstances have led to the prosecution of Ireland (ECJ, 2009) for non compliance with the relevant EU Directives. Comprehensive literature reviews will outline existing research undertaken on the contamination of water resources by OSWTS in Ireland and also on techniques that could be utilised to educate homeowners on what they need to do to ensure that their individual wastewater treatment system is compliant with the relevant legislation.
The research will adopt a number of research methods such as questionnaires and interviews to collect the data that is required to determine the knowledge that homeowners require about their OSWTS and this will shape the homeowner knowledge model that is to be developed. The publication of the research findings will inform the wastewater industry and the legislature of the key areas where homeowners are deficient in knowedge and understanding towards their OSWTS. These findings will also shape the knowledge model that will seek to address the knowledge and behavioural defieiciences that have led to Ireland being in the precarious position that it now finds itself in from the pollution, contamination and health threats associated with poorly performing and managed OSWTS’s. The implication of having relevant information and a clear understanding of where Ireland currently stands in relation the homowners and their interaction with their OSWTS’s will be of benefit to a whole range of sectors such as academia, industry, local authorities and the EPA. An accurate diagnosis of the problems relating to homeowner knowledge and behaiviour towards OSWTS’s will provide a framework to develop a lasting solution that will help in addressing pollution, groundwater contamination and the associated health risks from poorly constructed, managed and functioning OSWTS’s.

18 Thesis Final - 2.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email