New Septic Tank Regulation – One Year On


It’s now one year on since the new septic regulations came into force at the start of 2020 and those not up to standard are facing significant fines from the environment agency (EA). 

If you’ve already ensured you are compliant, then brilliant! But if you’ve not done anything about it yet, you need to make this a top priority.

Is your tank compliant?

You are no longer allowed to discharge from a septic tank to a watercourse, or to any other type of soakaway system other than a drainage field. If you live in England or Wales and have a septic tank that discharges directly to surface water, such as a river, ditch or stream, then you are not compliant with the new legislation, and your tank needed to be replaced by 1st January 2020. This means you need to urgently replace or upgrade your sewage treatment system or you risk significant fines from the EA. 

What are the rules regarding septic tanks?

Here’s a reminder of the new rules you should now be abiding by with your septic tank:

  • The discharge rate from a septic tank or small sewage treatment plant must be less than 2cu m/day.
  • The sewage must receive treatment from a septic tank and filtration system or a sewage treatment plant.
  • The sewage must be domestic, for example from a toilet, bathroom, shower or kitchen of a house, flat or business (such as a pub, hotel or office) 
  • The discharge must not cause pollution to surface water or groundwater 5m from a boundary, 10m from a ditch or watercourse, 50m from a water abstraction point or 15m from any building and other soakaway network.
  • The discharge must not be within a groundwater Source Protection Zone 1 or within 50m of any well or borehole that is used to supply water for domestic or food protection.
  • BS manufacturing standards must be adhered to and the system installed and maintained by a competent person.

For further information, the new regulations can be found online here: https://www.gov.uk/permits-you-need-for-septic-tanks.

Is your septic tank polluting a local watercourse?

The first port of call is to look at the drainage plans from when your septic tank was installed – this should detail where your system discharges to.

If you do not have this information, there are ways to check but as your septic tank is underground, it can be difficult to tell. Read our blog on ways to check.

The best way to establish whether your septic tank is compliant though is to get the help of a local specialist, such as ourselves.

What are the risks of not being compliant?

If you are found to violate the new regulations regarding septic tanks you could face prosecution and a significant fine from the EA so it is important you take immediate action. To find out more about the possible consequences read our blog.

You also need to be compliant before selling your house. 

What are your options?

One year on from this regulation coming into that force this should have already been fixed, however if not this is what you can do to ensure compliance. 

If these regulations affect your septic tank you have a few options:

  • Connect to mains sewer – where available
  • Install a drainage field (also known as an infiltration system), that is designed and made according to the up-to-date British Standard BS6297 2007, so the septic tank can discharge to the ground instead
  • Replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant that meets with full BS EN 12566-3 Documentation

How can we help?

Here at Cotterill Civils, we are one of the UK’s most trusted suppliers of sewage treatment plants, septic tanks, cesspools and pump stations. We can provide you with expert advice on the different sewage treatment options available to you as well as ways that you can upgrade your system without needing to replace it.

We can also offer a complete package – where we design, supply and install your new sewage treatment system, providing you with peace of mind.

Do not worry if you aren’t compliant, just give us a call on 0121 351 3230 and we’ll be happy to help!

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