Developers are familiar with Local Authorities required from them for sewer connections and ultimately taking in charge of a sewer or pumping station. Irish Water’s new Self Lay Agreement is a much more difficult process than before. While in the past, all that was needed was to submit for planning permission, a sewer connection and then performing a CCTV survey before handover to the Local Authority. Now there’s a lot more involved. Our experience is that many builders, contractors and developers run into trouble at a few key areas — in particular with Pressure Testing. Read on if you want to avoid running into these issues yourself.
The Basic Self Lay Agreement Process
Before you even begin planning, you must submit a “Pre-connection Inquiry Form” so Irish Water can tell you if a connection is possible. You must receive a “Confirmation of Feasibility” before you can submit your design. This design must meet the new standards and code of practice for you to receive “Design Acceptance”. Only when you’ve received Design Acceptance can you submit a “Connection Application”. And this, in turn, must be done before you will you be offered a “Connection Agreement”. The Connection Agreement lays out stringent construction and testing requirements, which must meet QA guidelines and be carefully recorded in order to adhere to Irish Water’s Inspection and Testing Plan. As part of the agreement, you’ll need to meet with an Irish Water Field Engineer before you start to lay the drainage as agreed in the plan. At all times, Irish Water may carry out on-site quality assurance to ensure that what is proposed is in-line with the new standards. These standards are far more rigorous and require far more work on your part than in the past. Once this is done in line, you will be issued a Certificate of Conformance. To get a more details outline of what is involved, refer to Irish Water’s Quality Assurance (QA) Field
During the construction phase, if anything arises that conflicts with the design submission, you must liaise with the Irish Water Field Engineer. What things are considered important? If you encounter infrastructure that isn’t in the design, or that needs to be adapted, you must get a
“Statement of Design Acceptance” before you make any change to the plan.
You must perform a survey to verify the location and level of the point of connection to the existing Irish Water system and everything about the construction must be accurately recorded (i.e. record where the drainage actually lies, not as they are in the designs). This information must be recorded in the QA Folder and Final Documents.
What Are the Drainage Requirements of the Self Lay Agreement?
Irish water differentiates between the Planning Phase and the Construction Phase. Only after your initial design is accepted will you get a “Connection Offer” from Irish Water. Once you accept it (Connection Agreement) you are still subject to review during all aspects of the building and testing phases. Once you accept the agreement, all construction, testing and documentation must adhere to the Quality Assurance approach outlined in their Manual (as well as all by-laws and regulations).
As part of your connection agreement, once you put all the pipes in the ground, you must pressure test all drainage lines, connections and pump sumps. The requirements may vary depending on whether it’s a sewer, service connection or another type of system. While these are all detailed in Appendix 3 of Irish Water’s Quality Assurance (QA) Field Inspection Requirements Manual, we have found this is a very problematic area for many developers.
“Our Pressure Testing Wasn’t Accepted!”
This is often where we are called in as many builders and developers are having trouble. This is because most of the testing systems available do not meet the QA standards for Irish Water’s Self Lay Agreement. There are very few companies available that can carry out the pressure tests in a way that’s fully compliant, and many of these tests (compliant or not) are slow and inefficient. You may also get a fail result and need to pinpoint and fix the point of leakage.
Needless to say, getting the test done right the first time around can be extremely important for keeping a project on schedule and within budget. Many builders and developers have reached out to us after the results of a pressure test they’d arranged were rejected by Irish Water. In some unfortunate cases, this has been after a multi-day testing period that kept construction on hold.
We use a computerised pressure testing system which is fully compliant with Irish Water’s new regulations. It produces a transparent, certified report which includes a pressure graph confirming all the results. These readings list precisely what was performed and provides a detailed readout that meets all of the new requirements, it also makes the recording for the Inspection and Testing Plan very convenient.
“We Can’t Get a Connection!”
To avoid any issues, make sure you first notify Irish Water before you begin drainage tests. You will need to provide a copy of the certification for the Pressure testing equipment you plan to use. The Irish Water Field Engineer may need to be present during the testing.
There are a different set of requirements to be carried out depending on the drainage system(s) you’re installing. If you plan to do this testing yourself, be sure to carefully read over Irish Water’s Quality Assurance (QA) Field Inspection Requirements Manual.
If you’d like advice or assistance, we can help. We can carry out the testing and help you ensure you meet all the new requirements with your inspection and pressure testing plan. This can greatly reduce downtime. This is especially important if you need to perform more time-consuming work such as pressure testing a pumping station/pump sump which can take three to seven days to complete and may be rejected if not done correctly.
If you’d like clarity or advice on your own project, feel free to call us on 1800 437 246.