Are septic tanks being banned?

With the new environment agency rules (the general binding rules) coming into full effect as of 2020, it’s worth knowing what you are and aren’t allowed to do. Time and time again we hear from customers that are worried they will have to replace their septic tank for a sewage treatment plant. This article will help to answer that question and clear up any doubt.

No, septic tanks aren’t going to be banned. I thought I would answer the question quickly. But can you breathe a sigh of relief? Maybe.

The idea that septic tanks will be banned is a little scare mongering. Septic tanks do a good job of holding back solids and separating solids from liquid, they also offer a small degree of biological cleaning, however the waste that is discharged from them is still very high in ammonia and requires treatment before entering the environment. This addition treatment comes in the form of a drainage field.

What is a drainage field?

A drainage field is a network of pipes surrounded in pea shingle or gravel. Bacteria grow on the gravel and help to clean the wastewater produced from a septic tank prior to it entering the ground. This is a perfectly adequate form of wastewater treatment and accepted by the environment agency. If you are currently doing this, then there is no need to change.

Why might I have to upgrade to a sewage treatment plant?

You will have to upgrade to a treatment plant if you are discharging water directly from your septic tank to a river, ditch or stream. This is because the water coming from the septic tank hasn’t had any further treatment and will be therefore high in ammonia (which is harmful to the environment). Normally it is advisable to just replace the septic tank with a treatment plant. However, it is also an option to add a tertiary filter like a reed bed of EcoFlo. This will provide the necessary treatment to enable you to continue to discharge to the ditch.

Take home message

It is important to understand that if you have a septic tank that is discharging to a ditch or stream. Yes, you will have to upgrade. IF the water is going to a drainage field and percolating through the ground, then no, you wont have to upgrade. Septic tanks are not going to be banned.