Private Sewerage Systems: What you NEED to know

“In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes”…and, perhaps, we could add, sewage?

Let’s face it, nobody ever wants to talk about sewage, just as we avoid thinking about death and taxes, but that doesn’t mean it will just go away.

So take a deep breath and let’s go in…

Did you know that it is unlawful for home owners to have a sewerage system that doesn’t comply with environmental guidelines?

The bottom line (no pun intended) is that if you have a sewerage system that doesn’t comply with environmental guidelines and there are no main drains to hook up to then a new system will have to be put in place.

This is your responsibility as the home owner.

Most homes are connected to the mains sewer but some have private sewerage systems such as septic tanks or cesspits:

Septic tank – an underground tank that collects the sewage and wastewater from homes that aren’t connected to the mains sewer. The solid waste sinks to the bottom and the liquid waste seeps into the ground.

Small sewage treatment plant (also known as a package treatment plant) – a system that treats the liquid waste so that it is clean enough to go into the ground or surface water.

Cesspit (or cesspool) – this is a holding tank, without an outlet, to collect and store sewage. It must be emptied regularly by a registered waste carrier. Owners of cesspits do not need a permit unless the Environment Agency tells you that you do.

If your property includes any of the above, you need to CHECK that they meet environmental guidelines. Otherwise, you could be breaking the law.

The environmental guidelines are made up of 14 binding rules which must be met.  These rules include:

  • The sewage must not cause pollution of surface water or groundwater.
  • All works and equipment used for the treatment of sewage effluent and its discharge must comply with the relevant design and manufacturing standards.
  • If a property is sold, the home owner must give the new home owner a written notice stating that a small sewage discharge is being carried out, and giving a description of the waste water system and its maintenance requirements.

 For more details, and the full list of binding rules, visit:

Or, contact us and we’ll be happy to talk you through the requirements to help put your mind at ease. Leaving you free to concentrate on the more fun aspects of home ownership.