New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

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Dhmellor
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:23 pm

New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Dhmellor » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:16 pm

Hi. I've read the other thread about the new septic tank regulations which kick in in January next year, but this is a different query.

The relevant government document (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-bin ... nt-systems) summarises what is required, but then includes the following statement: 'You can also ask the company that installed your equipment to confirm that it complies with the British Standard that was in place at the time the equipment was installed. If there were no British Standards in place when your treatment system was installed (that is before 1983) you do not need to do anything else to meet this requirement.'

We use a very old septic tank dating from over 100 years ago, which is shared between six houses. I have discussed the matter with a couple of our neighbours, but we disagree over what the above statement means. Some think it means we don't need to do anything, others believe that the new regulations also apply to us. Does anyone know who is right? Thanks for any insight.

Clifford Pope
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:18 pm

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Clifford Pope » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:18 pm

It seems obvious to me - if it complies with the rules in force when it was installed, then you don't need to do "anything else".
The "anything else" can only mean confirm that it is pre 1983.

Ours just disappears into the ground, somewhere. It's an ancient system, nothing has ever been done to it since 1875, and there is no obvious place to look to try and find it short of an archaeological exploration. It's an isolated house in the countryside, so I don't suppose there were any rules when it was installed.

Paddock
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:37 pm

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Paddock » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:30 pm

Meeting the standards in force at the time is just one of the tests. If there were no standards the tank doesnt have to meet them. However, it still has to meet all the other tests.

I have an old one used by two neighbours. The discharge goes into a pipe. By a process of elimination we worked out it goes into old roadside drains that eventually go into a ditch. Surface water. It now needs to be treated before it goes to surface water (from 2020 anyway).

if only drains legally to ground if there is a drainage field. If you dont know where it goes then it is probably going to surface water somewhere.

Have a similar problem that not all neighbours agree. I have checked with the EA and they say it is illegal and needs to be upgraded by 2020.

See tests 5 and 6 in this link https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... -rules.pdf


Paddock

Dhmellor
Posts: 67
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Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Dhmellor » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:23 am

Thanks for both of these responses. Like us and our neighbours, you don't agree! It would be nice if Clifford Pope were correct, but I fear Paddock has got it right, and we are in for a big bill..... :(

Paddock
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:37 pm

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Paddock » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:24 pm

Its one time I am not glad I'm probably right!

The other way to put it to your neighbours is just a common sense test. The whole point of the legislation is to bring polluting discharges up to a modern standard. Therefore, they are hardly going to exempt the oldest and worst ones are they?

The bill may not be huge. The actual tanks I have seen are quite reasonable. The installation costs might be a bit. But split 6 ways over a 50 yr plus timeframe it should be affordable.

Paddock

Paddock
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Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Paddock » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:53 pm

The EA has updated and clarified the guidance notes. It now says ;

If your treatment system was installed before 1983 there was no British Standard in place. You do not need to do anything to meet the British Standard requirement. You must still meet all the other general binding rules.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/general-bin ... face-water

So, yes, it applies to old tanks.

Paddock

Clifford Pope
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:18 pm

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Clifford Pope » Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:12 pm

Wishful thinking perhaps!

I can't find anything in the rules that describes the system we seem to have.

We are an isolated house in rural Wales, on the upper slopes of a wooded valley with fields at the bottom bordering a small river about half a mile away. There is no tank. The pipe goes into the ground and simply disappears, and nothing emerges anywhere. It must have been installed sometime in the late nineteenth century, and no maintenance or clearance has ever been necessary. We have lived here for 34 years and done nothing, and the previous owners had no idea how it worked either.

There is no tank, no sludge, nothing that could be emptied. It does not discharge to surface water, reed bed, field, etc, and does not appear to cause any pollution. Where would one check anyway - down somewhere along the river? It is not uphill of any well, spring or borehole.

What is it classified as? Presumably it complied with any regulations existing in 1880, and effectively does not now exist. :)

FilthWizzard
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Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:00 pm

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by FilthWizzard » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:51 am

Well, I see three possibilities:

1) It ends up in a watercourse somewhere, which would be a problem in 2020 if it is untreated.

2) It is falling into a void somewhere. Do you have caves beneath? Or mines? This would seem odd, but if it isn't entering a watercourse then there aren't many possibilities. If it was ending up in a void somewhere then be sure that void is on (or under) your property or you could be fly tipping in the worst possible way. And no, there is not going to be some easement that lets you dump untreated sewage under your neighbours house and forget about it.

3) There is some kind of dimensional portal down there that all your sewage is pouring into. If that portal is temporal in nature, you could find your sewage reappears at some point. Be sure to move before this happens.

I suggest you work on the assumption that possibility 1 is the likely situation.

arborlad
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Location: Hertfordshire

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by arborlad » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:01 am

Clifford Pope wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:12 pm
Wishful thinking perhaps!

I can't find anything in the rules that describes the system we seem to have.

We are an isolated house in rural Wales, on the upper slopes of a wooded valley with fields at the bottom bordering a small river about half a mile away. There is no tank. The pipe goes into the ground and simply disappears, and nothing emerges anywhere. It must have been installed sometime in the late nineteenth century, and no maintenance or clearance has ever been necessary. We have lived here for 34 years and done nothing, and the previous owners had no idea how it worked either.

There is no tank, no sludge, nothing that could be emptied. It does not discharge to surface water, reed bed, field, etc, and does not appear to cause any pollution. Where would one check anyway - down somewhere along the river? It is not uphill of any well, spring or borehole.

What is it classified as? Presumably it complied with any regulations existing in 1880, and effectively does not now exist. :)



Has anyone done a dye-test on your system?............fairly standard practice in these circumstances.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people

Paddock
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:37 pm

Re: New septic tank rules - do they apply to old tanks?

Post by Paddock » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:09 pm

If its untreated domestic sewage its illegal from 2020 even if it is being sprayed into space!

It will probably only ever be an issue if you sell your house in the future and the buyers solicitor asks about your sewage treatment system....

Paddock

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