If your property isn’t connected to the public sewer system, your waste will generally go to a small treatment plant, a cesspit or a septic tank. Septic tanks comprise a series of chambers which sift out solid waste from liquid, discharging the liquid into the ground. Cesspits can be expensive to run, and treatment plants discharge into watercourses: a septic tank is the economical, out-of-sight solution. It’s not as simple as buying one and digging a big hole, though: there are laws you have to follow, and steps you have to take.
Do the laws affect me?
The Environment Agency is involved with septic tanks by default, and you’re responsible for meeting their standards if:
- you own the property that uses the tank
- you own a property that shares the tank with other properties (in which case you also share the responsibility)
- you have a written agreement with the property owner that says you’re responsible for the system’s maintenance – for instance, if you’re renting and it’s in your tenancy agreement
What do I have to do?
You have four basic responsibilities as a septic tank owner and operator:
- you can only discharge domestic sewage
- you must check the discharge area for signs of pollution once a month (you’re looking for sewage smells and pools of water)
- your tank must be emptied once a year, by a registered waste carrier (like us)
- you are required to keep written records of every problem you have, every repair or emptying that’s carried out, and any complaints you receive about your tank
Do I need any special permits?
If you’re replacing an old tank, you’ll need a permit if:
- your tank is going to discharge into a well, borehole or other underground structure
- you’ll be discharging more than 2000 litres of liquid waste per day. You can download a spreadsheet to check this here.
- you live in a groundwater source protection zone. You can check this on the Environment Agency’s zoomable map here, or look around for sources of drinking water within 50 metres
As of January 2015, if you’re installing a new tank, you’ll need a permit if:
- there’s a public sewer within 30 metres (you need to prove that you need a septic tank in the first place)
- your waste will discharge into ancient woodland, special areas of conservation, special protection areas, Ramsar Convention wetlands of importance or sites of special scientific interest.
Whether replacing an old tank or installing a brand new one, the tank itself needs to meet the current British Standards.
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Just as we said at the start, installing a septic tank isn’t at all easy. You’ll need to build a relationship with a registered waste manager anyway, for the obligatory emptying and repairs, so why not start the way you have to go on? Mayglothling’s experts can talk you through the planning, the permits and the installation itself, and make certain that everything’s in order before you put your time and money on the line. You?ll find all the details of our installation service right here, and feel free to give us a call on 0800 051 9345.