Think tank before 2020

11 November 2019

CountyClean Group explains how proper maintenance of septic tanks can prevent a cleaning emergency at your business, and what the new 2020 Septic Tank Regulations entail

Septic tanks are a solution for dealing with and treating sewage and waste water, they are very common in rural properties and locations where no mains drainage is available.

If your business has a septic tank on site, you will need to ensure that it is properly maintained in order to prevent any health and safety risks as well as potential pollution to the environment.

The waste in a septic tank degrades by a natural biological process, over time sludge will build up in the bottom of your tank. The sludge needs to be removed regularly to ensure the tank continues to work correctly and to prevent the soakaway or outfall from becoming blocked. 

CountyClean Group suggest that de-sludging should take place every twelve months, however this is dependent on the tank size and usage and should be planned in advance to avoid emergencies, nuisance smells, potential pollution and even fines! 

With tougher legislation and stricter targets from the Environment Agency to prevent pollution, businesses are responsible for ensuring that:

  • The septic tank is properly maintained (with regular desludging and cleaning)
  • The septic tank access lids are secure and in good working order
  • Any drains to and from the septic tank, including the soakaway and outfall are free-flowing and free from obstructions

If you own your business premises, the duty of maintenance and the quality of the discharge and its impact on the environment are your responsibility. 

Businesses will also need to ensure they are up to date with the latest government and Environment Agency legislations coming into force 1st January 2020.

“General binding rules: Small sewage discharge to a surface water” 

New rules were introduced in 2015 by the government which will aim to end the practice of septic tanks discharging directly into a local watercourse such as a river or stream. These rules apply for existing treatment systems (installed and in use before 31st December 2014) and new ones (installed and in use after 31st December 2014), meaning that some business owners may be required to upgrade their systems.

Septic tanks that discharge directly into watercourses (e.g ditches, streams, canals, rivers or surface water drains) must be replaced or upgraded by 1st January 2020. These new rules are designed to reduce the level of pollution from sewage in watercourses as it is no longer acceptable to discharge untreated waste water into a watercourse.

Upgrading systems, help and best practice for businesses

With 2020 just around the corner it is highly recommended to replace and upgrade systems as soon as possible if it doesn’t meet the 2020 requirements.

Systems can be replaced with a sewage treatment plant which treats the waste liquid to meet the consent to allow discharge into a watercourse. Alternatively, a drainage field or soakaway can be installed or where available the plant can be connected to the mains sewer.

With CountyClean Group’s experienced and highly skilled civil engineering, groundworks and pump services teams, they regularly carry out the maintenance of sewage treatment plants, pump stations, cesspits and septic tanks. This includes; regular emptying (desludging), high pressure water jetting, repairs as well as system installs.

To ensure the best solution for your business and to guarantee all the correct requirements are met, CountyClean always recommended that a thorough site visit is carried out.

Advice and recommendations can be provided on a range of services from the design and provision of a complete drainage system to the install of a new sewage treatment plant. 

Businesses with a septic tank that do not meet the 2020 requirements will need to upgrade their system. A system that does not meet the new legislation could incur large fines from the Environment Agency as well as negative publicity.