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Everyday misconceptions about wastewater treatment systems and off-mains drainage

Everyday misconceptions about wastewater treatment systems and off-mains drainage

In today’s society, we have become so familiar with modern conveniences which we take for granted, such as indoor toilets and bathrooms, hot and cold running water. We forget having an ‘indoor outhouse’ was a weird concept for people in years gone by. Domestic wastewater treatment is a concept that many people are not aware of and in many cases do not fully understand; For this reason, you could be deterred from buying a property with a wastewater treatment system as opposed to being connected to mains drainage. Here we look at a few misconceptions regarding these systems.

All you need is a septic tank

False: Septic tanks do not provide adequate levels of treatment and are entirely reliant on ground conditions; the old adage of ‘a septic tank is only as good as it’s soakaway’ still has some relevance as they cannot cope with modern domestic waste levels.

Septic Tanks do not need emptying

False: Yes, they do -every 12 months. Sludge is removed then all that is left is a separation process with no biological treatment, leading to pollution in many cases.

Truth: Wastewater treatment systems (package treatment plant) biologically treat the sewage and discharge the fluids into the receiving ground and or watercourses subject to regulatory compliance. This method is cleaner and safer for the environment. The level of cleanliness from a treatment plant reaches recognised and quantifiable standards.

Odour risk….

Correctly sized, installed and maintained, wastewater treatment systems will minimise and prevent any odours.

Regular emptying will be required to maintain the correct bacterial balance within the plant. Desludging frequency varies depending on the type of plant from 6 monthly to two yearly or in some cases longer intervals.

Is the water from a package treatment plant of drinking quality?

False: Absolutely not! This is a myth – the output should be colourless and odourless – it is biologically treated sewage effluent, not pure water.

Household chemicals damage treatment plants….


False: Your treatment plant is supporting the growth of living biomass organisms that provide treatment within the tank. Sensible, moderate use of detergents will be within the tolerance of the system. Grease and medicines should be avoided however. Always seek advice if in doubt.

Regular maintenance is expensive….

False: This again depends on the type of system as some are very economical to look after. Maintaining your system can prolong the life of the unit, and there are various service and maintenance options available.

They are noisy, obtrusive and ugly structures

False: There are many different systems available that employ various methods of sewage treatment. These are quiet and designed to be unobtrusive or in some cases completely hidden.  There are many ways to conceal these systems from your view. We are able to offer independent advice and guidance as to which system will suit your exact requirements.

There are rules coming into effect in 2020 that will stop me being able to discharge into my soakaway system

False: The General Binding Rules brought in by the Government are looking to end septic tanks discharging into local ground waters, rivers and streams in order to reduce the amount of pollution entering the nations watercourses. Soakaways and infiltration systems disperse waste safely into the ground without causing pollution. Under these new regulations, anyone who has a septic tank that still discharges into watercourses must upgrade or replace the system by 1st January 2020, or sooner if the EA (environment agency) find it to be causing a pollution issue, or you are selling the property.

You must have planning permission and Building Regulations approval if you have or are planning to install a new sewage treatment plant.

True: SCP Building Products have over 30 years’ experience in the sewage treatment industry and can offer free assistance and advice if you have any questions about your system. Call our Drainage Specialist Team on 01803 866599 for advice on your current wastewater system or for guidance on choosing the plant for you.

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