On 1st January 2020, The Environmental Agency bought in a new set of regulations to help combat water pollution. These regulations were not widely advertised, and therefore relatively few homeowners are aware of their existence.
This is an issue because if homeowners do not replace or upgrade their tank to adhere to the new regulations, they will not be able to sell their property, and could be fined up to £100,000 if they are found to be breaching them.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the new regulations.
Who is The Environmental Agency?
The Environmental Agency is the government body responsible for overseeing the welfare of our environment, as well as ensuring that our environment is protected in the future. As of 2020, their main priorities include the regulation of major industries and water, clean water, contaminated land, and conservation.
As such, The Environmental Agency will often review current environmental regulations based on current issues and emerging science. That is why they released a new set of regulations at the beginning of 2020 – to help make a difference to the pollution of our waters.
What are the new Septic Tank Regulations?
As of January 1st 2020, it is against the law to own a septic tank that discharges directly into surface water. This includes lakes, rivers, streams and the like, as the wastewater is no longer deemed as being safe or clean enough to allow for sustainable waters.
Instead, septic tank systems must now discharge waste through a sewage treatment plant, which essentially treats the waste to an acceptable level of cleanliness before discharging into the ground, rather than directly into surface water.
This rule actually came into effect at the beginning of 2015, in the sense that property owners were no longer permitted to install septic tanks that discharged into surface water. When that law was passed, it was also announced that all existing septic tanks that did discharge into the watercourse would need to be upgraded or replaced by 2020.
Therefore, any property developer who has built a property in the last five years will not need to worry about upgrading their septic system. However, older properties who have not had their septic tanks upgraded will need to be, otherwise owners are at risk of enormous fines.
How can I ensure my septic tank upgrade is compliant?
As always, you will need to make sure that any upgrade to your septic tank system adheres to current legislation. In addition to the aforementioned rules that require a sewage treatment system to manage the discharge of fluids, homeowners must also ensure that their upgrade meets the required British Standard.
In this case, the relevant British Standards are:
- BS EN 12566 for septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants
- BS 6297:2007 for a drainage field
To meet these Standards, septic tanks must have a CE mark, a certificate of compliance (or the documentation given to you when the tank was installed), as well as meet the requirements set by British Water’s list of approved equipment.
Furthermore, you will need to ensure that your sewage treatment system has enough capacity. As you might expect, the type of property you own and the amount of people the septic tank will serve will impact the minimum capacity of the sewage treatment system. For specific details on the minimum capacity for your property, you should consult British Water’s Flows and Loads Code of Practice.
Finally, you will need to make sure that your septic tank and sewage treatment system is regularly emptied, maintained, and when necessary, repaired. You could be fined if it is revealed to be in poor working order.
I’m selling my property… is there anything I need to do?
As we mentioned earlier in the article, not a lot of homeowners know about these new regulations, and are meeting unexpected and sometimes disastrous hurdles when they realise they cannot complete the sale of their property due to an outdated septic system.
With this in mind, it’s essential to have a professional come and survey your septic system and tell you whether or not it is compliant. If it is, great! Although we would still recommend having it emptied in case any questions arise. It can certainly but off perspective buyers when they realise they’ll need to empty the tank themselves.
If your septic system is out of date, then you will be required to pay for a new installation or an upgrade. It is against the law to sell a property with an outdated septic system, and therefore a solicitor will not complete the sale.
Contact Forward Builders’ Supplies
At Forwards, we understand the implications of the new EA regulations for thousands of homeowners across the country. We’ve been selling septic systems for many years, and over this time have accumulated expert knowledge on both the tanks and the regulations surrounding them. With an enormous range of septic systems available on site, we’re confident that we’ll be able to help you.
For more information about these tanks, please give us a call on 033 0055 2500 to speak with one of our friendly team members.