Fossas & Furos!

The property doctor

Fossas & Furos!

Update 08/03/2010: Please see

Hot on the heels of the tourist letting registration and energy certificate requirement comes the necessity to register the use of various water resources. The deadline for this registration and licensing, which includes boreholes and septic tanks, will end on the 31st May 2009.

This deadline was established by Decree Law 226-A/2007 which specified that in the case of existing situations which have never been registered, the request for registration and licence should be made within two years from the date of the Decree Law, that being the 1st June 2007.

Boreholes, wells of any type, water mines, ponds, dams, and septic tanks must be registered with the competent authority which is, in the case of the Algarve, the Administração da Região Hidrográfica do Algarve, I.P. (ARH).

It should be noted that septic tanks subject to licensing are only those tanks which discharge into the surrounding environment.

There has been a movement since at least 2006 to reduce the number of septic tanks that discharge, preferring the use of closed septic tanks, in order to reduce the risk of contamination of the underground water supply

Emptying septic tank contents directly into the environment is a very serious offence and is punishable by a fine under the terms of article 81, number 3, f) of Law Decree 226-A/2007.

The use of the water resources without the respective title is also considered a very serious environmental offence and is punishable under the terms of article 81 number 3, a) of the above law with fines between 25.000 and 37.500 Euros in the case of individuals, and between 60.000 and 2,5 million Euros in the case of companies.

Licensing of boreholes (underground water capture), of septic tanks with residual water discharge has as ultimate aim the mapping of the above in order to manage in the best possible way the Country’s water resources, and also to control the residual water discharges into the environment avoiding therefore underground water supply (aquifer) contamination.

The Institute for the Regulation of Water and Residues (Instituto Regulador de Águas e Resíduos) has made a recommendation (Recommendation IRAR 1/2007) advising that septic tanks should be deactivated in cases where there is a public main sewage system available. Only in cases where deactivation is impossible for technical or economic reasons, recognised by the local managing authority responsible for such waste (normally councils), should such septic tanks remain. If not, the septic tanks must be deactivated, filled with earth and connection made to the main public sewage system, which is obligatory by law (number 2 and 4 of the article 2 of the Law-Decree 379/93 of the 5th November).

This is an occasional column written for subscribers with the intention of highlighting matters involving Portuguese property acquisition and ownership. It will never be intended to deal exhaustively with any particular topic but rather give food for thought, and subsequent enquiry if applicable, to the appropriate professionally qualified adviser.
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