New Septic Tank Regulations come into force 1ˢᵗ January 2020 – Are you ready?

In News by Kate Wilson

On 1st January 2020 new septic tank rules come into force. The latest regulations came out in 2015 and are called ‘General binding rules: small sewage discharge to a surface water’.

Historically, you could ‘discharge’ the separated wastewater from within the septic tank through one of two ways:

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

To a watercourse – the wastewater flows through a pipe from the outlet of the septic tank and discharges into to the local watercourse such as a stream or a river.

The new regulations prohibit the second disposal route as it is now recognised that the wastewater discharged from the septic tank is not clean enough to be released into a local watercourse without causing pollution.

Now, this isn’t an entirely new rule. For some years now, property owners have not been allowed to install a new septic tank which discharges to a watercourse. However, if your property already had a septic tank discharging to a watercourse, 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 that date if you are selling your property.

What do you need to do?

If your septic tank is discharging waste to a watercourse you don’t need to panic as you still have some time to find a solution, below are the main options:

Option 1

It may be possible to connect to a mains sewer – where available

Option 2

Replace or upgrade your existing septic tank for a suitably sized package sewage treatment plant that conforms to the BS EN12566. It will be certified to produce a cleaner form of water that can be discharged to a watercourse (you will still need to check to see if your watercourse is in one of the EA’s Protected Zones have a look at the EA’s Groundwater Source Protection Zones Map).

Option 3

Install a drainage field or soakaway system compliant with BS 6297:2007 for drainage fields – this will take the wastewater from your septic tank and disperse it safely into the ground without causing pollution. You will need to carry out a percolation test. If the percolation test works out and you can situate the Drainage Field at the required distance from the watercourse this may be a good option for you.

The team at Eco~tech Systems are on hand to guide you through what the changes mean for you and what the best option is for you.