Eco~tech Systems Environmental Ltd. Logo

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


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.