How the new Septic Tanks rules apply to you
Many rural houses, small developments and some glamping businesses use Septic Tanks. But, did you know that since January 2020, new regulations are now in force? These are called General Binding Rules. These rules are generally enforcing a positive change to protecting the local environment. And depending on the type of Septic Tank discharge, you may need to make some modifications to your septic tank.
This blog describes what these changes are and how significant they may be for you as a glamping business or property owner alike.
Before we get into all that, what is a Septic Tank?
What is a Septic Tank?
A Septic Tank is a multi-chambered (primary and secondary) tank that uses gravity to separate solid from liquid effluent without treating the sewage. It works by solid matter, called 'sludge', sinking to the bottom of the primary tank. Grease and oil, called 'scum' float to the top of the primary tank. Leaving the liquid waste to separate and eventually feed into the secondary tank. Like Collection Tanks (cesspools), Sludge and scum that builds up over time in the primary tank requires emptying from time to time. Until recently, this untreated sewage either flowed under gravity discharging into a soakaway or to a natural watercourse.
However, from January 2020, that has now all changed. New regulations called the ‘General Binding Rules’ don't allow black waste to discharge to a natural watercourse. Instead, that liquid waste is required to discharge to an underground 'herringbone' network of pipes that soakaway the waste into the ground. This must be designed and installed to BS6297 2007. However, while a septic tank is a simple and relatively low-cost installation, not all ground conditions make it viable to allow for a natural soakaway discharge to ground. Soakaways will have a limited life due to the amount of solids in the discharged water.
Alternatively, a Packaged Sewage Treatment Plant module can also be used to bolt-on or retrofit, to many existing septic tanks. This effectively upgrades the septic tank to the same purified output quality you can expect from a modern packaged sewage treatment plant.
As a side note, at Glampsan, we predict market trends will now move on from installing Septic Tanks towards Packaged Sewage Treatment Plants. [Link to Sewage Treatment Plants]
What do the new rules mean?
As already mentioned, 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. If your Septic Tank currently discharges to a watercourse, not a soakaway or drainage field, the new regulations enforce you to replace or upgrade the system.
This makes sense, given current aspirations for greener environmental awareness. So, ignoring these guidelines will only mean that you will find yourself in the equivalent of the contents of your Septic Tank!
ALL septic tanks that currently ultimately discharge into watercourses will have to be either:
- Replaced using a sewage treatment plant with full BS EN 12566-3 Certification, or
- The discharge to the watercourse stopped and diverted to a drain field, designed and constructed to the current British Standard BS6297 2007
How can I upgrade my septic tank?
According to D-tox (a waste removal specialist), several options that glamping or property owners have when it comes to upgrading include:
- Connecting to a mains sewer (where available),
- Installing a drainage field (infiltration system) so that the Septic Tank discharges into the ground or,
- Replacing with a small sewage treatment plant.
Septic Tank conversion units can be used to retrofit, or upgrade existing surface water discharging Septic Tank. A permit is required for this and evidence must be provided that it will treat to the equivalent standard as a sewage treatment plant. We at Glampsan can help you there as we are now supplying such products
Note: for Septic Tanks installed after 1st January 2015 that discharged to groundwater then, a few additional rules apply that need to be addressed. We recommend that you contact the environmental agency in your local area to understand how these apply to your site.
One of our passions is that we love using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in quirky, fun and useful ways to inform you. For example we have an awesome blog site aimed specifically as glamping businesses to help to inform you of waste sanitation solutions. So, head over to our blog website https://www.glampsan.com/blog. We do regular videos too to help get useful messages across to our customers, and we'd love you to tell us, in the comments, what you think too people.
Other blogs - Can I get Funding for my Glamping site
Graphic from http://www.sheldonfarmseptic.com/septic-systems.html
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https://www.glampsan.com (Part of Plastic Solutions based in Aldridge)