Owning a property with a septic tank, sewage treatment plant, or cesspit isn’t always straight forward and the changes which came into force on 1st January 2020 are forcing residents to reluctantly take another look at how they dispose of their waste.

The last regulations update was in 2015 and prevented property owners installing new septic tanks which discharge into a watercourse (a stream or a river). Properties with existing septic tanks could, however, continue to discharge in the same manner as they previously had.

The new regulations, The General Binding Rules, were set out preventing any septic tanks from discharging waste water into a watercourse. Consequently, all septic tanks must be upgraded in order to meet with the new regulations.

What can you do?

  1. Swap your septic tank for a sewage treatment plant – sewage treatment plants produce a cleaner form of water, and it’s considered clean enough to discharge straight to a watercourse.

  2. Install a drainage field or soakaway system – this will take the waste water from your septic tank and disperse it safely into the ground without causing pollution.

When do you have to have done it by?

Initially, the deadline for complying was 1 January 2020 however this was recently extended with guidance being that alternative arrangements must be made within a reasonable timescale of the 1st January 2020. This hasn’t been specified, but it is thought that this will be around 12 months.

In addition to this, septic tanks installed after 1983 are also going to have to meet the British Standard which was in place at the time of their installation. To prove this you will need to provide either the documentation demonstrating this, have a CE marking on the tank or find your tank on the British Water list of approved equipment.

Finally, if you are selling your home, you will need to provide the buyer with records going back 7 years in respect of the maintenance of your tank along with evidence that it has been emptied every 12 months. You will also need to provide evidence of the drainage system and where it drains to, if any changes have been made to this since the installation of the tank and details of any maintenance requirements.

If you require further information about septic tank regulations, get in touch with Farleys’ property solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online.