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Discharging private sewage to surface water: 8 Questions to ask

August 23, 2023

Discharging private sewage to surface water: 8 Questions to ask

Discharging private sewage to surface water: 8 Questions to ask

Residential developments which are located sufficiently far away from public drainage systems (typically taken as 30m for each dwelling within a development), may find it difficult to make sewerage connections to dispose of foul water effluent.
In these cases, the UK Environment Agency has provided guidance on acceptable ways to discharge small sewerage to surface water under the General binding rules: small sewage discharge to a surface water.
This document explains how to meet the general binding rules if a septic tank or small sewage treatment station is planned to release wastewater to a surface water asset such as:
·   Rivers
·   Streams
·   Estuaries
·   Lakes
·   Canals
·   Coastal waters

If your property meets all the general binding rules, The Environment Agency states that you will not need a permit to discharge small sewage wastes to surface water.
Some of the key questions to ask when planning to make such a discharge include, but are not limited to:

  1. Is the volume of discharge less than 5 cubic metres or less per day in volume?
    Refer to the daily discharge calculator Sewage discharges: calculator for domestic properties – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
  2. Is the sewage only from domestic use?
  3. Can you confirm that the sewage does not cause pollution to surface water or ground water?
  4. Has the sewage been treated via a treatment plant that complies with BS EN 12566 for small sewage treatment plants?
  5. If your discharge will be into tidal waters, is the outlet below the mean spring low water mark?
  6. Can you confirm that the discharge is not within 30 metres of a public foul sewer?
  7. Does your surface water discharge point normally have flow throughout the year?
  8. Can you confirm that your discharge will not be into an enclosed lake or pond?

It is always advisable to review the latest UK Government and Environment Agency requirements prior to carrying out any discharges to surface water, to ensure that you comply with ALL of their requirements.

Article:  Nnamdi Kotu-Rammopo

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