Septic tanks play a crucial role in managing wastewater for properties that are not connected to the mains sewage system. Understanding and adhering to the regulations surrounding septic tanks is essential to protect both environmental health and public safety. Recent changes to UK laws require specific actions from homeowners to ensure their septic systems do not harm the environment.

Understanding the Current Septic Tank Regulations

The Environment Agency has set stringent regulations to control where and how septic tanks can discharge wastewater. Significant changes were made in the regulations post-January 2015, with an emphasis on preventing septic tank discharge directly into surface water bodies such as rivers, streams, or lakes. Since 1st January 2023, installing new septic tanks that discharge into surface water has been illegal, and existing setups must be upgraded or replaced.

When selling a property with a septic tank, the seller must provide the buyer with essential information such as the system’s description, location, maintenance history, and compliance with the regulations.

Steps to Upgrade Old Septic Tanks

  1. Assessment of Discharge Point: First, check if your septic tank discharges into a surface water body. If it does, it needs to be redirected or upgraded.
  2. Choosing the Right Upgrade Option: The main options are installing a drainage field or upgrading to a small sewage treatment plant that meets BS EN 12566-3 standards. The choice depends on the property’s size, the soil type, and proximity to water bodies.
  3. Securing Permissions and Adhering to Building Regulations: Before upgrading, obtain the necessary planning permissions from your local council. Ensure that the installation complies with building regulations, particularly regarding the septic tank’s location relative to water sources and boundaries.
  4. Regular Maintenance and Inspection: Arrange for your septic system to be regularly inspected and maintained by qualified professionals. Keep records of maintenance as proof of compliance.
  5. Stay Informed on Regulation Changes: Keep up to date with any changes in legislation or guidelines from the Environment Agency to ensure ongoing compliance.

Regular Maintenance Tips

  • Pumping and Cleaning: Septic tanks should be pumped out every three to five years to remove sludge that accumulates at the bottom.
  • Avoiding Unnecessary Water Load: Minimize the water load on the septic system by fixing leaks and using water-efficient fixtures.
  • Proper Waste Disposal: Never dispose of non-biodegradable wastes like plastics, diapers, or chemicals into the septic system.

Advantages of Proper Septic Tank Management

  • Environmental Protection: Properly maintained septic systems prevent pollutants from entering watercourses, thereby protecting local ecosystems.
  • Cost Savings: Regular maintenance can prevent costly repairs and replacements in the future.
  • Property Value: A well-maintained and compliant septic system can increase property value and ease the sale process.

Responsibilities of Homeowners

Homeowners are responsible for ensuring that their septic systems are installed, maintained, and used in compliance with the latest regulations. This includes ensuring that the septic tank does not cause pollution or harm to the local environment.

Services Offered by William Gilder

At William Gilder, we provide comprehensive environmental services for septic tank installation, clearing, and maintenance. We understand the importance of minimal disruption and offer tailored services that include:

  • Emergency Services: Available 24/7 for blocked drains, flooded cellars, overflowing septic tanks, and related emergencies.
  • Tanker Services: Our fleet includes small and large tankers to accommodate different property sizes and locations, ensuring efficient and effective service delivery.
  • Grease Trap Services: We also manage grease trap cleaning and maintenance to prevent blockages and ensure optimal operation.


Complying with septic tank regulations is not only a legal requirement but also a crucial step in protecting the environment and public health. At William Gilder, we are committed to providing top-notch services that ensure your septic system meets all regulatory standards and operates efficiently. For more information or to schedule a service, please visit our website or contact our team directly.

For further details on our services and to get in touch, visit: William Gilder Group – Domestic Septic Tanks.