The Environment Agency have taken measures against water pollution. New regulations dictate that businesses and home owners are now in charge of the installation and maintenance of the sewage treatment system on their property and to reduce its impact on the local environment.
By 1st January 2020, all septic systems should have been upgraded or replaced if they do not meet the new standards. Therefore, if you are the ‘operator’ of a septic tank that does not comply you could be fined. You are classed as an ‘operator’ if you own property that uses such a septic tank, shares it with another property (e.g. a neighbour), or are responsible for it under a written agreement (e.g. a tenancy).
You are no longer allowed to discharge from a septic tank to a watercourse, or to any other type of soakaway system other than a drainage field. The reason for this is because the 'quality' of the waste water is no longer considered clean enough to flow straight into local watercourses or soakaway systems without causing pollution.
If your septic tank discharges directly to a watercourse, you need to do one of the following as soon as possible:
Along with upgrading the septic tank to meet the new requirements, the operator must also conduct ongoing maintenance and keep records of all works undertaken.
If you are buying a property with a septic tank, be sure to get a survey which to find out what kind on septic tank is installed. Homeowners should have replaced septic tanks by January 2020, however if the septic tank fails to comply with the new regulations, you should agree who will be responsible for the replacement or upgrade of the existing treatment system as a condition of sale.
In all cases, it is advisable to contact a registered professional to provide advice on the best options for you.