Is Your Septic Tank 2020-Ready?
28 February 2017 by CSG
If you have a property with a septic tank, there are some upcoming changes to the law that may affect you – and time is running out for you to comply with them.
By 1st January 2020, septic tanks will no longer be allowed to discharge directly to a surface water such as a river or a stream. Septic tanks that currently discharge via a drainage field into the ground are not expected to be affected.
If your septic tank is currently discharging directly into a surface water, doing nothing means you will find yourself in breach of the regulations from 2020. To stay on the right side of your legal requirement, you could choose any of the following alternatives (which may or may not be available to you):
- Connect your existing septic tank to a mains sewer
- Install a drainage field and divert your existing septic tank to discharge to ground
- Replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant
In each case, there are issues to consider and certain conditions to satisfy.
Connection to a mains sewer
Most people only opt to use a septic tank or similar because there isn’t a nearby mains sewer to connect to so it’s unlikely this will be a viable option to many. If you’re not familiar with the full history of the property, this could be an area to examine. Your local water company will be able to confirm whether or not connection to a mains sewer is a workable solution for you. For new developments, you may be compelled to use public sewers, if they’re close enough.
Install a drainage field
This is potentially the easiest way to get around the legislation, it’s an option if you have access to enough suitable land to provide the soakaway. You must also use a system that meets the BS 6297:2007 standard.
Replace your septic tank with a treatment system
This is probably the most likely outcome for all owners of the soon-to-be-outlawed systems, which discharge to a surface water. Your new system will need to be specified correctly with the right capacity for the levels of usage you have and must meet the BS EN 12566 standard. Once installed, the new treatment system must be regularly emptied and maintained.
You may think that, once one of the above alternatives is in place, your obligations are met but if you go on to sell the property before 2020, you must disclose to the new owner/operator a written description of the way sewage from the property is removed – with details of the new drainage system or treatment plant – together with any manuals and maintenance records.
As always, there are a number of further restrictions and exemptions that may apply. If this rule change applies to your property, we’re happy to help you decide what to do next and, of course, The Environment Agency are always on hand to help.