Septic tanks and treatment plants

Septic tanks

Do you have a septic tank at your property or at a property that you are looking to purchase? They are found in both residential and commercial properties, and they serve as an underground chamber (made of plastic, fibreglass or concrete) in which domestic waste water flows for basic treatment. Settling and anaerobic processes help with reducing solid and organic matter, however, the treatment efficiency is only moderate. They act as a type of simple onsite sewage facility.

For properties in Essex, London, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Kent and the wider regions, it used to be the case that home-owners could discharge of their waste-water from a septic tank in two ways – either by using a local watercourse or through a drainage field or soakaway system. However, owing to changes in septic tank regulations if your septic tank discharges into a watercourse you will now need to either upgrade to a treatment plant, or use the drainage field method.

Treatment plants

Domestic sewage treatment plants are used where mains drainage is inaccessible and they provide a modern alternative to septic tank systems. Acting as an independent waste water treatment system, domestic sewage treatment plants are designed to receive all the waste water from residential dwellings and promote the growth of aerobic micro-organisms which degrade the waste water, producing a treated effluent suitable for discharge into a natural watercourse.

Domestic sewage treatment plants will typically reduce the polluting load in the waste water by more than 95 percent, producing a clear and odourless effluent. In most instances this level of treatment will enable the effluent to be discharged to a ditch, stream or river, after approval from the Environment Agency.

There are various types of domestic sewage treatment plants available in the UK, but these all work on the same principle of developing aerobic micro-organisms to reduce the polluting load in the effluent, followed by a settlement process to remove any fine solids from the treated effluent. This treatment principle for waste water is the same as the principle used at main sewage treatment works for towns and cities, but on a reduced scale.

Septic Tank FAQs

Do I need a septic tank?

Septic tanks have traditionally been used in the past where a property is too far from a main sewage system. However, the septic tank regulations have now changed. As of the new rules launched in 2020, waste water from a septic tank is no longer allowed to flow directly into a local watercourse. If you have a rural property and you need a septic tank changed or upgraded, contact us today to find out how you can ensure you are compliant with the new legislation.

Septic tank regulations are changing

As of 1 January 2020, the regulations have changed. Septic tank regulations may not be at the top of your priority list. However, if you are looking at selling or buying a property with a septic tank, it should be at the forefront of your mind.

This is because if your tank is discharging directly into a ditch, canal, river, stream, surface water drain or any other type of water course, it will need to be replaced or upgraded prior to any property sale. This extra cost might be something that you haven’t considered, either as the buyer or seller.

What if I’m not moving house?

The regulations changed on 1st January 2020, and it’s not just those selling who are affected. Property owners in the East of England can no longer install a new septic tank that discharges to a watercourse. If your property already has a tank that is discharging to a watercourse, it will also need to be replaced or upgraded.

My property has a septic tank. What do I do?

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to make sure their property is discharging of waste water correctly, to minimise the impact of your sewerage on the environment. If your septic tank is discharging into surface water, it will need to be replaced or upgraded.

ALL septic tanks that currently ultimately discharge into watercourses will have to be either:

  • Replaced using a sewage treatment plant with full BS EN 12566-3 Certification instead
  • Diverted to a drain field that is designed and constructed to the current British Standard BS6297 2007, with the discharge into the watercourse stopped

There is a helpful Government page about septic tanks and treatment plants, explaining what permits you need and the general binding rules. This can be found here.

How can we help?

At Premier Drainage Solutions, we can support you with a range of septic tank services, including installing soakaway systems that will help ensure you comply with the new legislation. If you need to do a percolation test for your tank, you can also learn more about this on our blog or by giving us a call.

We work throughout Essex, London, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent and the wider regions. For more information, speak to a member of our team today: 01268 950050 or e-mail us: [email protected]

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