In 2005, the environmental legislation was amended, and requirements set for individual wastewater treatment plants were tightened. In 2008, the responsibility for assessing and inspecting individual wastewater treatment plants was transferred from the environmental assessment board to municipalities. Despite the stricter and clearer legislation, and the transfer of assessment and inspection responsibility, progress in measures relating to individual wastewater treatment plants is slow. The situation varies between municipalities, but in general, many municipalities have insufficient information on individual plants. In most municipalities, the building supervisor is responsible for the assessment and inspection, but the resources for this task are usually very limited.
In order to have a comprehensive view and to promote progress in measures relating to individual (small) wastewater treatment plants consistently, the situation must be mapped, and the inspection must be organised by preparing guidelines for inspection, including an inspection plan. The inspection plan should include a division of Åland into zones to prioritise measures and to implement measures in the right order, first in very sensitive areas and areas with many individual wastewater treatment plants based on an assessment, and not according to municipal borders. The guidelines for inspection must include guidance on how to find the small wastewater treatment plants, an inspection process flow chart, effective inventory and registration methods, assessment checklists and templates for communicating with property owners.
Potential legislative measures to require properties to join the municipal wastewater system are discussed, and the legislation on the requirement to empty catch basins will be reviewed. The building regulation should also include a requirement that property owners can demonstrate that their wastewater treatment systems are up to date as part of all renovation and extension projects.
It is necessary to increase resources and coordination in water and wastewater treatment in many ways. With respect to individual wastewater treatment plants, better coordination would result in fairer assessment, increased legal certainty and a better ability to maintain the competence required in the field. Municipalities act as the supervisory authority for individual small wastewater treatment plants and are responsible for a functioning inspection system.