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Homeseptic septic tank & sewage treatment experts

New Regulations for Soakaways 

For a FREE quotation for any Soakaway, replacement or installation, get in contact with us on 0800 3101092 or via our contact form. If you are still unsure on the new rules once you have read this article please feel free to get in contact.

The new rules and regulation for soakaways

As of the 1st of January 2015 a new set of rules came into effect for all owners of off mains drainage solutions. This included Septic Tanks, Sewage Treatment Plants and Cesspits.  The rules allow for exemptions for older tanks but did not initially for how they discharged.

Systems that discharge to a watercourse, drainage ditch or surface water were given until the 1st of January 2020 to conform. It is now illegal to discharge to any of these outputs using a Septic Tank. As well as any method that does not meet the current standard BS EN 12566 for small sewage treatment plants

For those discharging to ground, the rules came into effect immediately. Initially, the Environment Agency gave the guidance that all discharges to the ground now had to do so via a Drainage Field that complied to BS 6297:2007. This left millions of households with the need to update. This was not advertised by the Environment Agency and to the best of our knowledge, they were and are still not actively checking. The main issue was when someone came to sell their property.

We have now received updated advice from the Environment Agency. Which states the following:

  1. If a discharge is existing (i.e. discharging before 2015), then it could be that the infiltration system was installed before 1983 – i.e. before British Standards for drainage fields and therefore the infiltration system only has to meet whatever the best practices were at the time. An operator would not need to apply for a permit, so long as the discharge met the other rules for existing discharges for example not causing pollution, ensuring the treatment facility is maintained and working correctly etc.
  2. Some discharges may be existing i.e. before 2015 but after 1983 when British Standards were introduced. In this situation, the infiltration system would have to meet whichever British Standards were in force at the time and this would be for the operator to establish and ensure they comply with the General Binding Rules.

(Source Environment Agency 10/07/2020).

This is a much softer and more pragmatic approach. Unfortunately not all EA staff are trained to the same level and some are still in certain instances giving out what we have been categorically told is incorrect advice. This is because the above potentially contradicts rule 5 of the General Binding Rules which state:

The sewage must receive treatment from a septic tank and infiltration system (drainage field) or a sewage treatment plant and infiltration system.

The response from the Environment Agency in relation to this is the below. If you are still unfortunately assigned an officer who insists a drainage field is required then you must ask to speak to someone from the National Permitting office.

Whilst this does lend itself to contradicting rule number 5, as you point out there are many customers who have historically old infiltration systems, as such the intention is that these historic systems should have been built in accordance with the best practice at the time if pre-1983 or to the relevant British Standard and should not be causing a problem i.e pollution. Older infiltration systems, therefore, may not constitute what is now known as a British Standard drainage field but if at the time of their installation they were built to handle sewage effluent and followed either the British Standard of the time or best practices if before 1983, then they could possibly meet the General Binding Rules for existing sewage discharges if the other rules can be met. (Source Environment Agency 21/08/2020).

In short, there are still companies looking, incorrectly, to sell people unnecessary Drainage Fields and using the distressed nature of a house move to push this sale. If this happens to you get a second opinion or contact the Permitting office of the Environment Agency.

What is a Drainage Field?

A Drainage Field is a system of infiltration pipes placed in trenches and arranged so that effluent can be discharged to the ground. The field must be constructed in a certain way that allows for the effluent to be treated in the soil through aerobic digestion. This means it must be constructed in the top 700-800mm of the soil to ensure aerobic contact.

The Field must be big enough to treat and disperse the maximum amount of discharge the system will discharge to it. This is calculated by a formula that we will examine below in this article. The two main variables needed to calculate this are first, Vp, a measure of soil porosity gained from a percolation test. Secondly, the population of the household or population rating of the tank present in the system.

If a company comes to quote for a system, with a discharge to ground and do not require to undertake a percolation test then we would strongly advise you to discount their advice and quote. Without a percolation test, you cannot design a system that adheres to the Building Regulations or the General Binding Rules. Further, the system is unlikely to work properly.

Please also look at the following articles

Drainage Field, size calculation and design

Summary of the General Binding Rules for Septic Tanks and Sewage treatment plants

Our Core Services: The Sewage Treatment expert Installers

On the 1st January 2020, all Septic Tanks that discharge to a Stream, Watercourse or Drainage Ditch will become illegal and will require replacing with a Sewage Treatment Plant. Please see here for more details.

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Expert wastewater treatment engineers who specialise in Septic Tank and Soakaway replacements as well as Sewage Treatment Installations. We are based in the New Forest, Hampshire but operate across the South Coast as well as Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Sussex, Surrey, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.

The Home of Septic tank and private drainage system solutions. 

Based in the New Forest, Hampshire on the border with Dorset and Wiltshire we operate an expert team of off-mains drainage specialists. This encompasses Septic Tank, Soakaway and drainage system problems, installations, blockages, and servicing. In addition, any issues relating to cesspits and sewage treatment plants.

Homeseptic offers high quality, professional advice, repairs and installation for all aspects of effluent cleansing and disposal across the south of England. Whether you’re looking for septic tank installation, sewerage treatment plants or systems, piping or soakaway solutions, Homeseptic employs only the most competent engineers in the drainage and treatment industry and knows exactly which solutions suit each property.

We only install and offer quality systems we believe in, from suppliers we know and trust.

New Forest Philosophy

As we have said Homeseptic is based in the New Forest. A great location in between the cities of Southampton, Salisbury and Bournemouth. We are a group of good friends who grew up together in the area.  Individually we all have grown tired of the way other Drainage firms are run. As a result, this is why we set up Homeseptic. If you want to know more please check out our About Page

We want to actually put the customer first and turn up to do a great job that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the market, with most companies pressuring their workers to sell unnecessary works on a visit. Due to this, we offer upfront quotations with any variations discussed before we start work.

We are honest hard working professionals, which we hope you will agree with. As a result, it will certainly not turn up in flash sales vehicles and give you a load of chat and then do a terrible job. Our team will come with the job in mind and the aim of giving you the best value we can in order to facilitate a quality installation. 

We cover all of Hampshire, West Sussex, Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire. Please get in touch and see what you think.

New regulations on soakaways and drainage fields
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New regulations on soakaways and drainage fields
Many people are unaware of the changes in law that came into affect in 2015, concerning soakaways and drainage fields
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