Do you know what the septic tank regulations are?
The Environment Agency changed the regulations to simplify the laws controlling small sewage discharges from septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants in England. New regulations The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2014 came into effect in January 2015.
The General Binding Rules set out the conditions in the regulations that allow a septic tank or sewage treatment plant to be used without an environmental permit.
As an operator of a septic tank or sewage treatment plant if you don’t you comply with the General Binding Rules you still need a permit. If you require a permit and do not have one enforcement action will be taken against you.
There are 21 rules in total but there are key ones that will apply to most systems. Below are the key rules you need to comply with.
The discharge must be 2 cubic metres or less per day in volume.
A large 5 bedroom property will only discharge just over 1 cubic metre per day in volume so in most cases, existing domestic systems are well within this criteria. If you have a sewage treatment plant that discharges to a watercourse the limit is 5 cubic metres per day in volume so again, most domestic systems will comply. You can calculate your discharge volume here.
The discharge must not cause pollution of surface water or groundwater.
If your septic tank discharges to a watercourse, you do not comply! If your septic tank discharges to a poorly constructed soakaway, you do not comply! If you do not know where your system discharges to, you do not comply! We recommend that a basic survey of your system is carried out, usually in conjunction with desludging to ascertain the condition of your system and where your system discharges to. We can carry out a basic survey for you and check if you comply with the septic tank regulations.
All works used for the treatment of sewage effluent must comply with standards in force at that time.
Soakaways and drainage fields must be constructed in accordance with BS 6297:2007 in addition to other Codes of Practice and Building Regulations. If you are unsure if you comply with this get in touch for some FREE advice.
Maintenance must be undertaken by someone who is competent.
If you arrange for your septic tank to be desludged, you must use a competent contractor. A competent contractor will be licenced to collect waste, experienced in a variety of systems and work in accordance with British Standards and Codes of Practice when carrying out replacement or repairs of soakaways for example. We can provide you with FREE advice.
If a property is sold the current owner (operator) must provide written notice and a detailed description and layout of the system.
Standard homebuyers drainage reports such as a CON29DW will NOT provide you with the information required to comply with septic tank regulations. Buying a property with an old septic system could cost you £000’s to upgrade. Click here for more information on buying and selling off mains properties.
If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water watercourse or ditch you will need to replace or upgrade your treatment system by 1 January 2020, or when you sell your property if before this date.
What do I do if I don’t comply?
If you think you may not comply with the septic tank regulations then get in touch and let us help. If you don’t comply with the General Binding Rules you will need to apply for an Environmental Permit. The Environment Agency will assess your application and make a decision after that as to what you need to do. We can give you FREE advice on the septic tank regulations and liaise with the Environment Agency on your behalf and make the application for you. We can give you proposals and costings on any remedial work required or give you a quotation to upgrade your system making it compliant with the General Binding Rules.