Septic Tank Discharge – General Binding Rules

As of January 2015, new rules were introduced that simplify the way septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants are regulated in England.  These rules were introduced by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) and the Environment Agency.

If you are the owner of a septic tank or small sewage treatment plant, by law you must comply with the ‘general binding rules‘.  If the general binding rules cannot be adhered too then it would be necessary to either apply for an Environment Agency Permit or carry-out the required works to enable compliance.

The following information provides a brief overview of the rules:

Septic Tank Systems

  • Septic tank systems must comply with the relevant design and manufacturing standards i.e. the British Standard in force at the time of installation, and guidance issued by the appropriate authority on the capacity and installation of the system.
  • Septic tank systems must discharge into an underground soakaway / drainage field.  They are not allowed to discharge into a watercourse i.e. ditch or stream.
  • The discharge from a septic tank into a soakaway / drainage field cannot  exceed 2 cubic metres per day in volume.
  • The sewage draining to the septic tank must only be domestic.
  • The discharge from a septic tank must not be within a groundwater Source Protection Zone 1, or within 50 metres from any well, spring or borehole that is used to supply water for domestic or food production purposes.
  • Waste sludge from the system must be safely disposed of by a Licensed Waste Carrier.

As mentioned above, septic tanks are not permitted to discharge into watercourses regardless of the age of the discharge.  In situations where a septic tank is discharging to a watercourse it would be necessary for the discharge to be stopped, or for the sewage to be ‘treated’ by means of a septic tank conversion unit or packaged sewage treatment plant.

To view the general binding rules, click here

If you require advice regarding a septic tank system, contact us on 0800 121 6786 or complete the form below.