Septic tank regulations for both England and Wales have changed back on January 1, 2020.

All septic tank types that discharge to surface water now require either upgrading or replacement with a sewage treatment plant.

Options under the New Septic Tank Regulations, if your septic tank discharges into a watercourse.

Septic Tank Regulations Update

There are currently 3 options available;

  1. Connect to a main sewer this is not usual an answer, as if a main sewer is available you wouldn’t have a septic tank any way.
  2. Install a drainage field, but they would not work in most areas of the UK, as the natural soil drainage is too poor, this site would fail the trial site assessment and hole and the percolation tests.
  3. The only options for most people is replacing the septic tank with a sewerage treatment plant which treats the waste water, producing a clear liquid that is non-polluting and which can be discharged into a water course legally. All WTE sewage treatment plants have the certification required to replace existing septic tanks that discharge to stream and ditches. They are all extremely efficient when compared with others and very cheap to run, with a non electric option as well.

Options if your specific tank discharges into a soak a way;


Under the new specific tank rules, most existing septic tanks and associated soakaways are also no longer acceptable under the Environmental Agency building Rules.

The septic tank and type of soakaway in the diagram below would not meet current standards under these rules.

Your options would be;

  1. Install a correct drainage field, if you have enough land which also passes the trial site assessment hole and percolation tests, a typical drainage field requires up to 180 square meters of land and all of its has to be 15 meters from a building.
  2. If you have a ditch or other watercourses of surface water drainage nearby, it is always cheaper to install a sewerage treatment plant and connect to the watercourse instead of installing the drain field.

All sewerage effluent discharges, irrespective of age, volume or location are now subject to Environmental Agency General Building Rules. This also applies to existing septic tanks and sewerage treatment plans and to the replacement of existing tanks and drainage fields.

As the owner of a septic tank or small sewerage treatment plan you must check you complete with all the general binding rules. You must apply for a permit if you don't.

Septic tank effluent cannot discharged int any watercourse or ditch. If you have a septic tank that discharges directly to a surface water pipe, ditch stream or river, you will need to replace or upgrade your treatment system within 12 months maximum or when you sell your property, if before this date under these new rules.

Septic Tank Regulations Update
Septic Tank Regulations Update

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