Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Septic tanks

If a your domestic property has no connection to a foul sewer, and no connection is possible, you will most likely have a septic tank to deal with sewage and waste water from your premises.

This might be a septic tank that deals only with the waste water from your house, or it might be a septic tank that deals with waste water from a number of neighbouring properties.

Septic tanks use natural biological processes to break down sewage and waste water and produce a discharge that can be made safe and harmless when slowly added to well aerated soil, or by another final treatment.

If the natural processes are stopped, then problems can occur. Non-mains sewerage systems can pollute groundwater (all water lying below the water table or in aquifers) if they are poorly located, built or operated. This can affect water supplies, such as drinking water or water for livestock. It can also pollute surface water in rivers, streams and lochs/loughs.

This guide explains what you should do to look after a septic tank and how to prevent problems arising. It also tells you how to register existing or new septic tanks.

If you are a plumber or builder installing a septic tank there are certain things you must do before installing a tank. This guideline outlines these responsibilities and the authorisation you need before you start work.

Additional resources

For information on how to keep your tank working effectively you should carry out regular maintenance. Read more about maintaining your septic tank.

To register your septic tank, for information on why your septic tank needs to be registered or how to check if your septic tank is already registered, read register your septic tank.

Read information on installing a new septic tank and planning waste water and sewage treatment for your site here

Read about the legislation covering septic tanks in Scotland and Northern Ireland here

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