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Legal responsibilities of Wastewater proprietors
If you are legally responsible for a septic tank, sewage treatment plant or cess pool there are a number of things you need to consider as part of an ongoing maintenance programme, the exact requirements of what is expected of you is dependant on what you have installed.
It is outlined both under the 2020 General Binding Rules and the Building Regulations approved Document H a basic breakdown of what MUST be undertaken on a regular basis.
It is worth noting that local authorities have powers to ensure that your Septic tank/ Sewage treatment plant is being appropriately maintained and not causing any risk to health or environmentally pollution.
Septic tank maintenance
As part of good standard practise, despite the fact a septic tank has no mechanical parts this does still require inspections to be undertaken. This can be done by the property owner and is recommended to be done at least every month – this consists of checking the levels within the tank, ensuring the inlet and outlet is free-flowing.
Visual checks of the internals of the unit can also be done during the desludging process, this can include checking the internal baffles are still in place, all Tee pieces are still in place and there are no visible cracks in the tank wall.
Emptying should be done at least annually, however if the flow is not to an operational standard the unit will need to be desludged as and when required. This must be carried out by a licensed contractor with a waste transfer note being retained for your records.
As per the 2020 General Binding Rules a septic tank must discharge to ground and cannot enter a watercourse. It is important that your outfall on the septic tank is checked as any solids entering the soakaway could potentially cause issues with the pipework becoming choked and ultimately end in failure. This could also result in the site no longer being suitable for a discharge to ground should space be limited.
Sewage treatment plant maintenance
If your sewage treatment plant is certified to a BS EN12566-3 standard then this is eligible for a discharge both to ground and to watercourse, these units are subject to more stringent maintenance requirements as unlike the septic tank a package sewage treatment plant has mechanical parts.
The frequency of this will be outlined under the manufacturer’s guidelines, for a small domestic unit serving a singular dwelling, the likelihood is that you will only need to have the system serviced annually but for larger systems this might be more frequently.
This should be done by a competent and experienced wastewater servicing engineer, we would always recommend that a service contract is taken out on your sewage treatment plant, this takes the stress away from having to remember when your unit is due, and you can know that your system is in safe hands.
A sewage treatment plant must always be working to a high operational standard and cannot be found to be causing any pollution to the surrounding environment, this is especially when discharging to a watercourse, any issues impacting the efficiency of the system must be rectified in a timely manner.
The consequences of failing to maintain your system
As mentioned above local authorities have powers to ensure that wastewater treatment system/ septic tanks/ cess pools are appropriately maintained, if they have any doubts as to the effectiveness of your system, they are legally allowed to undertake tests on the system providing they have reasonable grounds to be concerned.
Likewise, if your system is overflowing or discharging untreated effluent into the environment then this could initiate legal action to be taken, this could apply to both the homeowner and the builder dependant on the circumstances of the overflow/ discharge.
If remedial works are not actioned and you are found to still be causing pollution, then you may be subject to fines from the Environment Agency.
To ensure you are covered under these circumstances why not give us a call on 01388 537030, we carry out routine services, emptying, remedials and call outs so we can offer that extra peace of mind!
East Kilbride Business Centre
14 Stroud Rd
Unit 2, Midway Business Centre
Bridge Street Industrial Estate
Clay Cross, Chesterfield