The new septic tank regulations 2020 – explained

The new septic tank regulations 2020 – explained

Regulations around discharging into surface water or watercourse(s) from a septic tank and similar wastewater systems have changed in England & Wales as of January 1 2020.

These regulations mean septic tank owners have been asked to upgrade their drainage if they have a particular type discharge process. However, the new regulations do not affect everyone.

If the owner has a septic tank which discharges indirectly away from a watercourse then the tank is still seen as lawful. More explanation is given below.

All sewage treatment plants which have full certification are and will be exempt from these regulations and will be operating within the law.

How will I know if I’m within regulations?

Your drainage from your septic tank will happen one of two ways. The best way to know if your system is within these regulations is to know the difference between the two.


A waterway allows the effluent discharge through a pipe and directly into a stream, lake or river. This is commonly known as ‘Direct Discharge’.

This method is affected by the 2020 septic tank regulations.

The law now states that direct discharge will no longer be permitted, and the owner will be advised to upgrade their system.

Drainage field:

A drainage field releases wastewater through a series of pipes into surrounding subsoils. This provides an additional form of treatment to the effluent from the septic tank. This helps the whole process become more environmentally friendly as it does not cause pollution.

This method is not affected by the new septic tank regulations.

Are any other wastewater systems affected?

As it stands, Cesspits are not affected by this particular regulation.

If you are concerned about your septic tank drainage, please contact us today and we will be happy to help.

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