Septic Tank Regulations 2020

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2020 Septic Tank Regulations

Are you compliant with the latest septic tanks regulations?

The Environment Agency has set out General Binding Rules for small sewage discharges which came into play from 1st January 2020. We’ve put together some FAQs and information below to help you understand the changes and what action you may need to take.

I have a septic tank. How do the new 2020 Septic Tank regulations affect me?
You first need to understand where your septic tank discharges to. If it discharges to a watercourse or any type of soakaway system other than a drainage field then you will need to make some changes.
Why have the Environment Agency changed the rules about Septic Tanks?
The Environment Agency have made changes to the regulations because the quality of the wastewater discharged from a septic tank is not clean enough to flow straight into a watercourse or soakaway and is causing pollution.
When did the new Septic Tank rules come into effect?
The new rules are effective from 1st January 2020 however The Environment Agency issued General Binding Rules for small sewage discharge to surface water back in 2015. The rules specify that you are no longer allowed to discharge from a Septic Tank to a watercourse, or to any other type of soakaway system other than a drainage field. For some years now new septic tank installations have not been allowed to discharge to a watercourse. For existing Septic Tank installations, the new legislation dictated that any drainage system that does not comply must be upgraded or replaced by 1st January 2020.
Will I have to replace my Septic Tank under the new Environmental Agency General Binding Rules 2020?
Not necessarily however if your septic tank discharges directly to a watercourse you will need to complete works to upgrade or replace your Septic Tank with immediate effect. For full guidance, we recommend you take a look at the Environmental Agency General Binding Rules.
What is changing from 1st January 2020 for Septic Tanks?
With effect from 1st January 2020 you must ensure that your septic tank discharges either to a mains sewer or you can install a drainage field, also known as an infiltration system. Alternatively you could replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant.
What if my septic tank does not comply with the regulations?
If your septic tank does not comply this may result in the Environment Agency taking enforcement action against you.
I am buying / selling a property which is not connected to a mains sewer. What do I need to know?
Whenever you are buying or selling a property it is important to understand the drainage system in place at the property prior to completing any sale or purchase transaction. If the drainage system is not compliant then you should agree with the buyer or seller, as a condition of the sale, who will be responsible for the upgrade or replacement of the existing sewage treatment system. Generally, this involves the seller making the changes to ensure compliance prior to the sale.
What is a drainage field?
A drainage field, also referred to as an infiltration system, leach field or leach drain is a system used to remove contaminants and impurities from the wastewater dispersed from your septic tank. A drainage field consists of a series of trenches containing gravel, stone materials, and perforated pipes, which are located underground, to allow further treatment and infiltration of the wastewater safely into the ground.
What is a Septic Tank?
A Septic Tank is an underground tank where solids descend to the bottom forming sludge, and the liquid flows into a drain field where microorganisms treat it as it penetrates the ground. It’s not allowed to discharge into a waterway.
What is a Cesspit or Cesspool?
With a Cesspit or Cesspool the raw sewage is not discharged, it is instead deposited in a sealed tank. Cesspit regulations state that they shouldn’t be allowed to leak or overflow and they must be drained when full.