Septic tanks that discharge to surface waters in England should be upgraded or replaced by 1 January 2020.
The Environment Agency (EA) state that options for upgrading or replacing include:
Improved septic tank systems may be eligible for exemption from the need to hold an environmental permit (EP) where they are used for domestic sewage only and satisfy other exemption conditions.
Where a septic tank that discharges to surface waters benefits from a permit, the EA guidance is that the septic tank should be upgraded or replaced by 1 January 2020. An EP allowing a septic tank to continue to discharge to surface waters would only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Where transactions involve a septic tank that discharges to surface waters, the parties should agree how the system will be upgraded, who will meet the costs and ensure that the EA will be satisfied with the works. Septic tank owners should open a dialogue with the EA to agree a planned timeframe for making acceptable improvements to a septic tank that discharges to surface waters, especially if it will not be possible to complete changes by 1 January 2020.