The Septic Tank Regulations You Need to Know
When having a septic tank installed on your property or an existing septic tank properly maintained, it is important to follow the regulations. However, although the new regulations are coming into full force in January 2020, there has been a lot of confusion around the subject. So, we decided to put together this comprehensive and informative article on the septic tank regulations in the UK, what they mean for you, and the steps you need to take to ensure your septic tank is up to standard.
How Does Your Septic Tank Work?
You will most commonly find septic tanks in rural areas of the UK where properties cannot be easily connected to a main sewer line because of how remote they are. Therefore, the purpose of a septic tank is to treat the waste water that comes from your property in a safe and hygienic way.
Septic tanks work simply by separating the solids and liquids in your waste water. All the sewage from your home flows straight from your property into your septic tank where the heavy solids sink to the bottom of your tank, while the lighter solids float to the surface. The sludge in your septic tank is broken down by bacteria that naturally occurs in your septic tank. And over time, your septic tank will fill and eventually need emptying by a team of professionals. The waste will then be taken away by a professional to a treatment plant.
The New Septic Tank Regulations Coming January 2020
In January 2020, on the 1st of the month, the new septic tank regulations will be enforced throughout the UK. The motivation behind the new regulations is to ensure all septic tank systems are working as efficiently as environmentally-friendly as possible. Although the thought of this new regulations may be frustrating or even a little bit confusing, they will help ensure your septic tank is running hygienically, safely, and not causing any pollution to the environment.
You are Responsible for Your Septic Tank
In regard to the new regulations, one of the most important things to remember is that your septic tank is your responsibility. If your septic tank is causing any pollution the environment, through incorrect draining procedures, such as into streams or rivers, you will be liable for the environmental pollution caused. To avoid this, it is your responsibility to ensure the following:
Your septic tank is properly maintained
Your septic tank access lids are secure and in good working order
Any drains leading to and from the septic tank, including the soakaway, are free-flowing and free from blockages.
If you do not keep your septic tank properly maintained and ensure it is following the new regulations, you may be subject to legal action.
How to Drain Your Septic Tank Correctly
With the new regulations coming into force, it is important to ensure you drain your septic tank correctly. All drainage procedures must be followed correctly. The new regulations coming into force help ensure you drain your septic tank correctly by a fully-trained and licensed professional only. It is illegal to have your septic tank emptied by anyone other than a qualified professional.
You Must Not Discharge into Surface Water
The new regulations coming into force in 2020 are also banning the discharge of sewage into surface water, such as streams and rivers. If your septic tank is currently discharging into surface water, you will need to update or replace your system before January 1st 2020.
Alternatively, you can take the following steps:
Apply for a permit, allowing you to discharge into surface water. However, be aware that permits are only ever granted in exceptional circumstances.
Install a drainage field so that liquids can be discharged directly into the ground.
Replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant.
Connect to a mains sewer system (if possible).
The New Septic Tank Installation Rules
Another aspect of the new regulations is the rules surrounding septic tank installation. When having a septic tank installed, it is absolutely essential that you contact a reputable professional who will ensure your septic tank is correctly installed to follow the regulations.
When having a new septic tank installed, you must contact two essential authority bodies: the environment agency and the local authority building control to ensure all the correct practices and regulations are followed. When having a new septic tank installed, you must have consent from both:
Approval from building regulations
New System Standards
The new regulations for septic tank installation standards are as follows:
BS EN 12566 for small sewage treatment plants.
BS 6297:2007 for drainage fields
Your septic tank will also meet the British Standard quality if it has the following essentials:
It has a CE mark
The manual or other documentation that came with your tank or treatment plant has a certificate of compliance with a British Standard.
It is on British Water’s list of approved equipment.
Your Septic Tank Must have the Following
Although this is not officially a new regulation, it is still essential that you ensure your septic tank is effectively suited to your requirements. All that means is that your septic tank must be able to comfortably treat the amount of sewage that comes from your property. If you’ve added new members to your home or you’ve connected with another property, your septic tank must have enough capacity to handle this. If your septic tank is not large enough to deal with your households capacity, you must replacement it with a large tank that supplies your needs.
Your Septic Tank Requires Planning Permission
When it comes to septic tank installation, one of the most common questions is whether or not you need planning permission. While some areas of the UK do not require planning permission, it is generally a must. Planning permission is not difficult to apply for and it is very unlikely your septic tank installation will not be signed off.
Find Out More about Septic Tank Regulations
If you would like to find out more about septic tank regulations and discover all you need to know, contact septic tank installation experts. Alternatively, you can find a detailed explanation of the new septic tank regulations on the Gov.uk website.