New Sewage Discharge Rules in 2020

If your property has a septic tank - or if you are buying a property with a septic tank, please read on:

The Environment Agency are keen to ensure that what goes into a septic tank stays in the tank, instead of floating down the local stream.  There are a lot of rules and regulations surrounding septic tanks - from where you can put them to where the water that leaves the tank can go. 

The latest regulations came out in 2015 and are called 'General Binding rules: small sewage discharge to a surface water'.

As the operator of a septic tank or small sewage treatment plant you much check you comply with all the general binding rules. You must apply for a permit if you don't.

Septic tank effluent cannot be discharged into any watercourse or ditch. If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water pipe, ditch, stream or river, you will need to replace or upgrade your treatment system 1 January 2020, or when you sell your property, if before this date, under these new rules. 

Previously you could 'discharge' the separated wste water from within the septic tank through one of two ways:

1.  To a drainage field or soakaway system - here, the waste water percolates through holes or slots into the pipework, into the surround sub-soils.  This provides a form of treatment of the water and it allows the waste water to disperse safely without causing a pollution.

2. To a watercourse - the waste water woulod flow through a sealed pipe straight to a local watercourse such as a stream or river.

So, what's changed?

You can no longer do no. 2 above.  The reason for this is because the 'quality' of the waste water is no longer considered clean enough to flow straight into local watercourses without causing pollution.

This isn't entirely a new rule.  For some years now, property owners have not been allowed to install a new spetic tank which discharges to a watercourse.  However, if your property already had a septic tank discharging to a watercourwse, unless the EA identified that it was causing a pollution, you were able to carry on. 

This all changes in 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 tha date if you are selling your property.

What are the options?

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

  1. Swap your septic tank for a sewage treatment plant - sewage treatment plants produce a cleaner form of water and it is considered clean enough to discharge straight to a watercourse.
  2. Install a drainge 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 team at Spa Pipe Supplies Ltd are happy to guide you through what the changes mean for you and what the best option is for you and your property.  Please contact us to find out more.