New 2020 regulations

Do you have a Septic tank or soakaway, New 2020 regulations

I am sure you have been looking online at the new regulations concerning Septic tanks. But if your property has a septic tank – or if you are buying a property with a septic tank there are some things you need to know.

Given the nature of what enters a septic tank, it is understandable that the Environment Agency is eager to ensure that it stays in the tank, instead entering the local water course. So, there are a lot of rules and regulations concerning septic tanks. From where you can install them, to where the water that leaves the tank can end up. 

The latest regulations from the government came out in 2015, and are called General binding rules: small sewage discharge to surface water” these can be found on the website.

To a drainage field or soakaway system – The waste water percolates through holes or slots into the pipe work, into the surrounding soils.  This provides a form of treatment of the water, and it allows the waste water to disperse safely.

To a watercourse – the waste water would flow through pipe work to a watercourse.

New guidelines now state that you are no longer allowed to discharge untreated water into any watercourse. The Environment Agency have decided that the quality of the waste water is not considered clean enough and will have a detrimental effect on the environment as a whole.

New rules for 2020: If your property’s septic tank discharges to a watercourse, not a soakaway or drainage field, you must replace or upgrade the system by 1st January 2020 – or before that date if you are selling your property.

You do have a couple of options:

There are two main ways in which you can comply with the new regulations:

  1. Change your septic tank for a package sewage treatment plant– Sewage treatment plants produce a cleaner form of water, and it’s considered pure enough to discharge to a watercourse
  2. Install a drainage field or soakaway system– this will take the waste water from your septic tank, and disperse it safely into the ground without causing pollution.

The sewage must:

be domestic in nature, e.g. from a toilet, bathroom, shower or kitchen of a house, flat or business (e.g. a pub, hotel or office)

not cause pollution

There are other rules depending on whether you’re releasing this sewage:

to the ground, e.g. in your back garden

to a surface water, e.g. a river or stream

Discharges from septic tanks directly to the surface water are not allowed under general binding rules.

If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water you will need to replace or upgrade your treatment system by 1st January 2020, or when you sell your property if before this date.

If the Environmental Agency finds evidence that your septic tank is discharging to a surface water is causing pollution, you will need to replace or upgrade your system earlier than 1st January 2020. You will usually have to do this within 1 year, although this will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

You may be able to:

  1. Connect to a mains sewer – where available.
  2. Install a drainage field (also known as an infiltration system) so the septic tank can discharge to ground instead.
  3. Replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant.

Make sure the surface water has flow.

New discharges are not allowed to a ditch or surface water that does not contain water throughout the whole year. This is unless there is a drought or an unusually long period of dry weather.

New discharges to watercourses that seasonally dry up are not allowed under the general binding rules, nor are discharges to enclosed lakes or ponds.

Contact the Environment Agency if you are unsure whether the surface water you want to discharge is suitable.

Please call us if you have any questions 01420 56177

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