An alternative to septic tanks, and a hope of creating jobs too

People may be protesting about the up-coming registration of septic tanks around the country, but one company was promising a “reasonable cost alternative” to septic tanks at its launch in Kilkenny’s Cillín Hill Business Centre on Friday afternoon as Environment Minister Phil Hogan carried out the official launch.

People may be protesting about the up-coming registration of septic tanks around the country, but one company was promising a “reasonable cost alternative” to septic tanks at its launch in Kilkenny’s Cillín Hill Business Centre on Friday afternoon as Environment Minister Phil Hogan carried out the official launch.

August BioPro Ireland’s opening of its South East office in the business centre came complete with a live demonstration of its biological waste water treatment systems.

Intended for residential, commercial and industrial use, the units range in size from those to cater for six to 50 people, larger ones for 75 to 250 users, and still larger ones for populations of 1,000 to 5,000 people.

August BioPro Ireland represents the manufacturer in the Irish and UK markets, and its goal is to have them manufactured in Ireland – creating jobs in the process – in the coming years.

The process is patented; based on technology developed by two Slovak researchers with PhDs in chemistry, managing director Terry Hutt explained at Friday’s launch. So far about 10,000 to 15,000 units have been installed across Europe, and August BioPro Ireland will be targeting Ireland and the UK, and possibly Canada in the future. A unit for a four-bedroom house costs €3,300.

Driving the treatment system is a 60-Watt blower that pumps air in. This generates an electricity bill of about €65 a year, and the company is hoping to develop wind and solar technology to reduce the cost even further.

The system can take in washing-up liquid and detergents, and “it doesn’t freeze because the water element is in the centre of the unit and is insulated from the cold,” Mr Hutt pointed out.

Its output is also cleaner than the latest standards that were introduced for Ireland, he said. “The water from that is cleaner than our lakes, rivers and streams.”

Minister Hogan wished the company well in its business, and spoke of Ireland’s obligations to comply with a European Court of Justice judgement regarding the treatment of waste water. “Ireland has to meet these this year or face fines,” he noted, adding that “part of that judgement was that the European Commission wanted us to have, for the first time, a register of septic tanks in the country,” which is due to begin being carried out this summer.

“We have to have good environmental conditions. If we don’t have good, solid ground water quality, we won’t have job opportunities for people in this country,” Minister Hogan said. “The first thing a company looking to make inward investment here will ask is: ‘What is the quality status of our water?’”

“We have something that lots of countries do not: a plentiful water supply,” he said. “Water is our oil, and particularly good-quality water is going to be hugely important in selling the country internationally and bringing jobs to Kilkenny and Carlow and the rest of the country.”