With the new septic tank regulations coming in to place later this year, it’s important to know your responsibilities. Septic tanks play a vital role in managing domestic wastewater in areas where a it can not be connected to the main sewer system. You are classed as being responsible for a septic tank or sewage treatment plant if:
- You own the property that uses the sewage treatment plant
- Your property shares the sewage system with another or multiple properties (you are all equally responsible)
- You have an agreement with the owner of the property that you are responsible for the system, i.e. if you’re renting or its in your tenancy agreement.
The general binding rules only apply to domestic sewage and outline the requirements for the use and maintenance of septic tanks and sewage treatment systems, aiming to protect the environment and improve wastewater management. They apply to anyone who has a septic tank or sewage treatment plant that makes a small sewage discharge. If you are unable to meet these regulations, you have the option to apply for a permit from the Environment Agency.
The most recent regulation was passed in 2015, which stated that if your septic tank discharges into surface water, such as river or stream, you must upgrade your system to a sewage treatment plant or install a soakaway system by the 1st of January 2020. If you intend to sell your property before that date, the septic tank upgrade must have been completed before the sale can be finalised. The deadline for complying with this regulation has since passed.
Upcoming Septic Tank Regulations
Starting from the 2nd of October 2023, new sewage discharges must adhere to specific regulations. If a new discharge would exceed the permitted limits for groundwater or surface water, it cannot share the same outlet as an existing septic tank discharge.
Furthermore, any new sewage discharge must not be within a 50-meter radius of other activities involving groundwater or water discharge. These rules have been implemented to minimise sewage pollution and protect the environment and waterways.
What to do if you're Non-compliant with the Regulations
Options for compliance if your septic tank discharges into a waterway:
- Upgrade to a sewage treatment plant: Replace your septic tank with a compliant sewage treatment plant that can safely release into a waterway.
- Connect to the mains sewer system: Utilise your existing sewage drainage system by linking it to a public sewer. Installing a pump station can extend the reach of sewage effluent.
- Install a drainage field: Redirect the discharge into the ground through a drainage field.
- If none of these options above are attenable to allow you to meet the new regulations, you have the option to apply for a permit from the Environment Agency. A permit will not be granted by the Environment Agency if they determine that connecting to the public sewer or making system modifications to meet the general binding rules is a viable and reasonable option.
What are the consequences of not being compliant?
If you fail to comply with the new regulations, you risk being given a significant fine as well as potentially legal prosecution.
The Environment Agency can check to ensure your system is compliant with all regulations at any point in time. They do this a number of ways including; an assessment to check you are complying with your permit like sending in all the required information, an officer could visit you to perform an inspection or taking a sample of your permitted water discharge activity or groundwater activity.
How can we help
If you are not sure if these new regulations affect your sewage treatment system, CountyClean Group can help. Our friendly team can assist your understanding with further information and can offer advice on the best solution for you.
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