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  • FIRST POST
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 13th Feb 18, 8:34 PM
    • 214Posts
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    lovehols
    Questions about Sewage - Sewage Treatment Plants
    • #1
    • 13th Feb 18, 8:34 PM
    Questions about Sewage - Sewage Treatment Plants 13th Feb 18 at 8:34 PM
    We are in the process of buying a house, close to completion but just had a septic tank survey done as the property is adjacent to a canal (not towpath side) and we needed to check it complied with the General Binding Rules, which it does, however it is a 'very unique system' and unfortunately not in a particularly good way.

    If anyone here has any knowledge about sewage I'd be really grateful for some insight please. I'm still awaiting the report but the tank itself was described as 'a DIY job' and whilst long very shallow, not even a metre deep. The surveyor also seemed to think that the soakaways were not in good nick, likely to be as they had apparently never had the septic tank emptied, but did this when we asked them, which apparently made it more difficult to assess overall There is bizarrely no manhole at the junctions either making it difficult to deal with blockages etc. Now we do plan on doing some major works subject to planning so it is likely that the system would comply with building regs anyway and the surveyor did say whilst we could just get away with doing the soakaways it is likely that a new system would be more cost effective in the long term. I'm sure there will be a fuller and more detailed description in the report, this is my interpretation of what was said!

    Now I've been looking into the non-electric sewage treatment plants which I understand are preferred now rather than septic tanks anyway. Does anyone have any experience of these? It got me thinking rather than soakaways it may be possible to discharge into a watercourse, eg the canal as many of the treatment plants seem to be recommend by the environmental agency. I'm also wondering if this is potentially cheaper than a septic tank and soakaways etc, though I've no idea on cost of either.

    Mains is not an option due to the location and the fact we have a canal in between the house and the nearest mains!

    Thanks for any advice.
Page 1
    • wymondham
    • By wymondham 14th Feb 18, 7:08 AM
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    wymondham
    • #2
    • 14th Feb 18, 7:08 AM
    • #2
    • 14th Feb 18, 7:08 AM
    I don't have any knowledge on this but it seems like a big headache - the house must be perfect if you're going ahead?
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 14th Feb 18, 8:00 AM
    • 214 Posts
    • 122 Thanks
    lovehols
    • #3
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:00 AM
    • #3
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:00 AM
    As an update to this, I was reading online about the possible need to obtain a permit but the Environment Agency website state "if your sewage discharge to surface water is less than 5 cubic metres per day and you meet the general binding rules, you do not need a permit". So am I right in thinking as long as the canal agree and the system meets building regulations and planning that we don't need a permit? We wouldn't be discharging more than 5000 litres a day, there are only two of us.
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 14th Feb 18, 8:24 AM
    • 214 Posts
    • 122 Thanks
    lovehols
    • #4
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:24 AM
    • #4
    • 14th Feb 18, 8:24 AM
    I don't have any knowledge on this but it seems like a big headache - the house must be perfect if you're going ahead?
    Originally posted by wymondham
    Oh yes it's been a big headache, just one of many issues but we are awaiting to see exactly what's in the report and will be speaking to the seller, but at least we are going into it with our eyes open. Building survey, septic tank survey etc. We are just looking at options/alternatives and potential costs.
    • tonyh66
    • By tonyh66 14th Feb 18, 9:23 AM
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    tonyh66
    • #5
    • 14th Feb 18, 9:23 AM
    • #5
    • 14th Feb 18, 9:23 AM
    it sounds like a non electric treatment tank is the way to go, but I would get absolute assurance from British Waterways that you will be allowed to discharge into the canal. Any other solution will be a pain unless you have a (very) large piece of land you can dig the new soakaway into.

    forgot to add, you may still have to pass the discharge through a reed bed before it goes into the canal
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 14th Feb 18, 9:29 AM
    • 214 Posts
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    lovehols
    • #6
    • 14th Feb 18, 9:29 AM
    • #6
    • 14th Feb 18, 9:29 AM
    it sounds like a non electric treatment tank is the way to go, but I would get absolute assurance from British Waterways that you will be allowed to discharge into the canal. Any other solution will be a pain unless you have a (very) large piece of land you can dig the new soakaway into.

    forgot to add, you may still have to pass the discharge through a reed bed before it goes into the canal
    Originally posted by tonyh66
    I've emailed them so will update. It is on a half acre site and there is lots of room for soakaways or to replace the existing ones though, it just means digging up the whole garden. That said, we'd be planning on doing some significant extending/remodelling so it's going to be building site anyway.
    • tonyh66
    • By tonyh66 14th Feb 18, 12:40 PM
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    tonyh66
    • #7
    • 14th Feb 18, 12:40 PM
    • #7
    • 14th Feb 18, 12:40 PM
    If you have to do a soakaway, the treatment plant is still the best option. A standard septic tank is a lot cheaper, but needs emptying on a regular basis 1/2 years. Treatment plants break down all the solids and produce a cleaner discharge, less likely to block the soakaway over time.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 14th Feb 18, 12:47 PM
    • 2,532 Posts
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    the_r_sole
    • #8
    • 14th Feb 18, 12:47 PM
    • #8
    • 14th Feb 18, 12:47 PM
    how old is the property?
    It may be that the tank predates any requirement for compliance with any rules, in which case it will only be if you decided to change or alter it, you would need to comply with current legislation.
    • lovehols
    • By lovehols 14th Feb 18, 1:05 PM
    • 214 Posts
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    lovehols
    • #9
    • 14th Feb 18, 1:05 PM
    • #9
    • 14th Feb 18, 1:05 PM
    1975 was when it was built. According to the seller who is dealing with probate, he didn't think the septic tank was ever emptied which was probably why when we raised concerns be had it emptied. The septic tank man who did the inspection thought this may have been why the soakaways weren't in great condition.

    If we can get clarification on whether the sewage treatment plant can discharge into the canal this may do away with the need for soakaways anyway. I am looking at non-electric sewage treatment plant options but there doesnt seem much info on here.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 14th Feb 18, 3:00 PM
    • 5,233 Posts
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    EachPenny
    It will be interesting to hear the response about the canal. I would expect them to say 'no' as the water in canals is relatively static and therefore it creates the potential for pollution issues. Treatment plants discharging into watercourses usually result in the discharge entering a flowing 'stream' which gives the potential for mixing, dilution and aeration.

    Canals are increasingly seen as leisure assets, and people discharging sewage (however well treated) into them doesn't fit well with the idea of people wanting to enjoy their boating holiday.

    From a more practical perspective, would the water level in the canal suit gravity discharge from the house? If not, then you might need to look at having a pumped system, and if you are going down that route then the possibility of pumping to the mains sewer may become a more attractive option than on-site treatment.

    How close to the canal does the mains sewer come? If I remember correctly you were having concerns over the access road as well? Does the mains sewer come down the access road to the houses on the other side of the canal to yours?
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • theonlywayisup
    • By theonlywayisup 14th Feb 18, 3:11 PM
    • 12,221 Posts
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    theonlywayisup
    We have a standard non electric septic tank circa 14 years old. It's been emptied probably 4 times in those years. It is well maintained and has never been a problem.

    When the tank was installed, apart from building regs we had to apply to the Water Authority for a "consent to discharge". Aside of that there wasn't anything extraordinary to do. Things may have changed in 14 years but don't let a standard tank put you off.
    • tonyh66
    • By tonyh66 14th Feb 18, 3:20 PM
    • 1,148 Posts
    • 796 Thanks
    tonyh66
    1975 was when it was built. According to the seller who is dealing with probate, he didn't think the septic tank was ever emptied which was probably why when we raised concerns be had it emptied. The septic tank man who did the inspection thought this may have been why the soakaways weren't in great condition.

    If we can get clarification on whether the sewage treatment plant can discharge into the canal this may do away with the need for soakaways anyway. I am looking at non-electric sewage treatment plant options but there doesnt seem much info on here.
    Originally posted by lovehols
    You need to google it, its too specialised for a general forum like this one.there are companies out there who manufacture them, you will find information on their websites.
    • frankie
    • By frankie 14th Feb 18, 3:39 PM
    • 688 Posts
    • 272 Thanks
    frankie
    When we moved house a couple of years ago, I recall having to produce some sort of certification for our sewage treatment tank. We also had it registered on the environmental agency site. Your solicitor should be up to speed on this and you should get them to cover all the requirements (they get paid enough after all!)
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