Sewage Treatment Plant Buyers Guide. Free no obligation quotes available.
With the upcoming 2020 legislation changes and continued environmentally focused regulation, Septic Tanks are a thing of the past. Sewage Treatment Plants are the future. Call us on 0800 3101092 to arrange a FREE quote or contact us here.
A guide to 2020 septic tank regulation and what it means for Sewage Treatment Plants
The Environment Agency has created new general binding rules concerning septic tanks. One that discharges directly to surface water (ditch, river, etc.) must be replaced/upgraded to a full sewage treatment plant. This must be completed by 1st January 2020, or when you sell your property, if it is before this date.
You may be able to:
- connect to mains sewer – where available
- install a drainage field (also known as an infiltration system) so the septic tank can discharge to ground instead
- replace your septic tank with a small sewage treatment plant
What legislation, rules and regulations need to be considered for a sewage treatment system?
Here starts our guide to buying a sewage treatment plant. Currently, if you have a septic tank the local authorities will issue discharge permits. However, many authorities are now deeming septic tanks insufficient when it comes to the quality of effluent cleansing. National legislation will be introduced in 2020 rendering all septic tanks unfit for discharging into a watercourse. This will result in many properties requiring support from retrofit systems or complete replacement with a small sewerage treatment plant
Discharges from septic tanks, cess pits and small sewage treatment plants will need to be registered under the new legislation. In order to help our customers to understand this legislation; you will not need to register unless:
- Discharge is to ground and is of 2 cubic meters per day or less. (the equivalent of a 9-person occupancy.)
- Sewage is only domestic.
- The sewage system is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and you keep a record of all maintenance. In the case of septic tanks, this includes regular emptying records.
- The discharge does not cause pollution of surface water or groundwater.
Your treatment system must meet the right standards (As stated on GOV.UK website)
Your treatment system must meet the relevant British Standard which was in force at the time of installation. The standards currently in force for new systems are:
BS EN 12566 for small sewage treatment plants
BS 6297:2007 for drainage fields
Your treatment plant met the British Standard in place at the time of installation if:
- it has a CE mark
- the manual or other documentation that came with your tank or treatment plant has a certificate of compliance with a British Standard
- it’s on British Water’s list of approved equipment
How does a sewage treatment plant work and how it is different to a Septic Tank?
- A sewage treatment plant produces a clean, non-polluting effluent. This effluent can be discharged directly to a stream, ditch or to a soakaway for dispersal into the soil.
- A septic tank produces a very polluting effluent. This must be discharged only to a soakaway for further treatment of the pollutants by the natural aerobic soil bacteria.
- Sewage treatment plants have mechanical components, which means that they need a permanent electrical supply to operate. There are no such components in a septic tank, and so it operates without a power supply.
- The typical septic tank has two ‘zones’, whereas a sewage treatment plant typically has three.
- A sewage treatment plant provides treatment of the waste, whereas a septic tank simply separates it. This means that the wastewater that leaves a sewage treatment plant is cleaner than what leaves a septic tank. You still might not want to take a shower with it, but it’s certainly a lot more environmentally friendly.
What are the benefits?
A sewerage treatment plant produces cleaner wastewater which can be discharged straight to a local watercourse. Many properties in the UK currently still have a septic tank that discharges to a local watercourse. This is opposed to a drainage field or soakaway. As of January 1st, 2020, this is no longer legal.
What does this mean to you?
If you own a property with this drainage system, you must upgrade it by that date. If you are selling a property with this system in place before 2020, you must upgrade it before selling. In the event, you are buying a property with a septic tank discharging to a watercourse make sure this is discussed! Until an agreement has been made about upgrading the system then don’t commit to purchasing. Call our team on 08003101092 about our pre-purchase surveys so that you’ll know exactly what you’re taking on.
The Inner workings of a sewage Treatment Plant
The Inner Workings of a Septic Tank
What size sewage treatment plant will I need?
Your treatment system must be installed properly and have enough capacity (As stated on the GOV.UK website).
Your treatment system must be large enough to handle the maximum amount of sewage it will need to treat. If you install a new small sewage treatment plant you must check with the installer that it meets the sizing requirements in British Water’s Flows and Loads 4 guidance.
If the amount of sewage the system needs to treat increases (for example, because you’ve extended your property or connected an additional property) you must make sure the treatment system is still big enough. You must also recalculate the maximum daily volume of your discharge and apply for a permit if it is more than 5 cubic meters (5,000 litres) a day.
Your treatment system must be installed in line with the manufacturer’s specifications (the instruction manual or technical set of requirements that comes with the equipment).
Sewerage treatment plants come in all sizes. From small domestic systems for 4 people, right up to commercial sewerage treatment plants for 100s and 1000s of people.
There are a lot of variables to be considered when choosing what size sewerage treatment plant you need. The best way is to use the recently produced code of practice from British Water. This is called “Flows and Loads – 3”. Simply put, it bases the calculation on the number of bedrooms that your property has from a base of 3. I.e. if you have a 3 bedroom house you need a 5 PE system. This is a 5 Person Equivalent system that will treat sewage to give an effluent standard of 20 mg/l BOD, 30 mg/l SS and 20 mg/l Ammonia. For every additional bedroom, you add another 1PE, so a 4 bedroom house requires a minimum 6 person plant.
How much electricity does a septic tank or sewage treatment plant and its system use?
Sewerage treatment plants use electricity to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You may be interested to know roughly how much owning one will cost you to run. Well, this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer however this simple formula gives you a rough idea.
Watts (of the system) × 24 (hours) × 365 (days) ÷ 100000 × price per kilowatt
For example, a Graf One2clean uses 36Kwh per person per year, so for a 4 person house c.£20 per year.
We cannot give you an exact figure as to the cost of running each and every system. This will depend on certain factors. You should check the price (per kilowatt) with your own electricity provider. How much your sewage treatment system will cost to run will depend on how much you pay for your electricity.
Which is the best domestic Sewage Treatment Plant?
As you can imagine this is a highly subjective question. We have our own opinion based on the quality of the tank, warranty, effluent quality, environmental credentials and how the tank works.
In short, we like the Graf One2clean series for small domestic installations. Check out the brochure here
The Graf tanks are single chambered injection moulded systems set up to be ultra environmentally conscious from production through to the output. They are also designed with no moving parts or mechanical elements making them reliable, less costly and easier to maintain. The tank comes with a 15-year warranty and 3 yr warranty on the technology.
- Sustainability starts with manufacturing, this type of tank tech normally requires 2.7 kWh per kg of plastic to produce, Graf has it down to between 0.38 and 0.5 kWh. Further, all heat generated by the process is recovered and used to heat the companies logistics buildings. All the materials used are 100% recyclable
- Electric usage is kept to a minimum, 36kWh per person per year for the One2Clean and 43kWh for the advanced, a 9w energy saving bulb uses 78kWh, normal sludge activated systems use 217kWh.
- Both of the Graf systems only require one pumping process compared to three in normal systems, extending the life of the core air compressor and delivering the energy savings.
- The unique way the system treats the waste minimises the level of sludge produced and generates market leading odourless effluent quality. Graf claims this leads to a carbon footprint of 25% compared to conventional wastewater treatment systems.
What is the next best domestic sewage treatment plant?
The disadvantage of the Graf Tank is that a low profile version is not available. This means in areas of high groundwater we prefer to install a different tank.
In these circumstances, we use the Marsh Ensign Low Profile tank. Please see here for more details.
- Tested to BSEN12566:3 and CE-marked to ensure compliance with the latest environmental and Building Regulations requirements.
- Class-leading effluent quality of 11.5:19.2:8.4 (BOD:SS: NH4) ensures discharges well within national consent standards
- Three chamber system correctly sized for separation and retention of solids improves final effluent quality
- Low energy compressors ensure minimal running, maintenance and servicing costs
- High specification bio-media (310m3 per m2) and membrane diffusers ensure even circulation to eliminate ‘dead spots’
- Internal recirculation (from final to primary chamber) continues the treatment process to provide higher effluent quality whilst balancing flow over 24 hour period or periods of intermittent use.
- 50-year design life.
- 25-year structural guarantee.
Klargester sewage treatment plant review.
What about Klargester? The Klargester series be it the Bio disc, Envirosafe or Bio-Ficent are the best-known models in the market. We don’t fit them or recommend them although we regularly repair them. Parts are expensive and the tanks generally have lots of metal moving parts that fail. Also, the labour cost to repair is high, who wants to be handling a giant disc that has been rotating for years inside a waste-filled tank!
The effluent qualities are also not great especially for Suspended Solids and BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand).
If you really want one then we can fit one but the Graf tank is better all-around in our opinion.
What to look for when choosing the best sewage treatment plant for you.
Okay, so you want to work out for yourself what type of tank is best for you and your project. We have put together a classic top 10 elements to look out for.
Top 10 things to consider when replacing or buying a Sewage Treatment Plant
Construction of tank
Look for a tank that does not have any mechanical seals. Seals rot and perish and unless you want to dig the tank up again to replace avoid. Many tanks are manufactured in two parts but are plastic welded together, this is okay. The same applies for inlets and outlets. Ideally, look for a tank that is constructed using injection moulding techniques.
The material the tank is made of.
This more for your information but still important to know and consider. There are two main types of material that a Sewage treatment plant is made of Fiberglass and Composite plastic materials (High-Density polyethylene. Generally, the composite tanks are stronger.
Warranty of Tank.
It goes without saying that you want a warranty on the structural integrity of the tank. If the tank collapses, leaks or splits then as you can imagine it’s going to be expensive and messy. You should look for at least a 10yr structural guarantee. If the manufacturer doesn’t feel comfortable to offer this length of warranty then you don’t want it, simple.
Warranty of components.
In this world, the main warranty only covers the tank. This differs from the normal domestic guarantees you get. First of all, check that the internal parts have a warranty. I feel that every tank should operate trouble-free for at least a year. The Graf tanks offer a 3-year guarantee on the internal parts which I think is fair.
The less electricity you use the cheaper it is to run your system and this can make a big difference over a sustained period. The basic Graf One2clean uses 36Kwh per person per year compared to aeration models that use c.217 kWh a running cost difference of over £100 per annum based on a 4 person household.
No internal working parts.
Avoid tanks with complex internal moving parts be it valves, motors, discs, gearboxes and sensors, minimalism is the way forward. Many of these parts are internalised in the tank are metal and sewage is corrosive, this equals big bills. A prime example is the Klargester Bio Disc. So, avoid lots or internal moving metal parts.
Air Blower position
Make sure the air blower is housed outside of the tank in a weatherproof unit. If the air blower is located in the tank it will fail due to the wet conditions.
Compressor running time
Look for a tank where the compressor is not constantly on. This reduces electrical costs and also significantly extends the life of the compressor.
Can the tank work when underloaded?
The way tanks are sized to pass building control rules is based on the number of bedrooms your property has. However, the process of the tank is based on the number of people in the house. If there is a large disparity between the number of people in the property or it is a second home or holiday home then the tank will not work properly. At best this can mean poor effluent quality, which may lead to an illegal discharge. Worst case the tank may malfunction. The Graf Advanced tank comes with under load detection as standard. If you fall into the underuse category, look for a tank system with an underload program.
Servicing & Emptying intervals and costs.
Okay, let’s start by separating this out. All Sewage treatment Plants require annual servicing, this needs to be documented and certified. Failure to do this will result in potential fines if your plant’s discharge quality is below acceptable levels. Further solicitors are increasingly asking for service evidence when it comes to selling your home.
What you want to look for is the desludging or emptying frequency. An empty generally costs between £140 and £200. Personally, I think you should get it emptied annually anyway.
This varies a great deal from one plant to another. This WTE guide is very informative. Generally, try to get as good an effluent quality as you can. This is not just to make the environment nicer and reduce any smell is also has an economic driver. If your tank only scrapes through the effluent tests when it is brand new then as soon as it degrades it would become illegal. This will mean you will have to install a new system or face constant high servicing charges. If the quality is higher you have more wiggle room.
New Forest Philosophy
Homeseptic is based in the New Forest in between the cities of Southampton, Salisbury and Bournemouth. We are a group of friends who grew up together in the area and grew tired of the way other Drainage firms are run. We want to actually put the customer first and turn up to do a good job we can be proud of. Unfortunately this is not the case in the market, with most companies pressuring their workers to sell unnecessary works on a visit. We are honest hardworking professionals, which we hope you will agree with. With we will not turn up in flash sales vehicles and give you a load of chat and then do a terrible job. We will come with the job in mind and to give you the best value we can in order to facilitate a quality installation.
We cover all of Hampshire, West Sussex, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire. Please get in touch and see what you think.