Farmers have been warned to keep tabs on an upcoming change in regulation to avoid breaking the law on watercourse septic tanks.
Civil engineering specialist Kingmoor Consulting said while those operating a tank which discharges into a soakaway or drainage field are fine to continue, owners with a tank discharging directly into a watercourse must replace or upgrade the system by January 1, 2020.
Those planning to sell the property must change the tank earlier, it added.
Colin Aimers, director of Kingmoor Consulting, said: “Given what goes into a septic tank, it is understandable why the Environment Agency is keen to make sure it stays in the tank, instead of floating down the local stream.
“Now you can no longer discharge to a watercourse directly.
“The reason for this is because the quality of the waste water is no longer considered clean enough to flow straight into local watercourses without causing pollution.”
Mr Aimers said although property owners had been prohibited from installing a new septic tank which discharged into a watercourse for many years, those with a previous tank which did so but proved not to be polluting the area had been allowed to carry on using it.
There were two ways to comply with the new regulations. Farmers could either swap the septic tank for a sewage treatment plant, or install a drainage field or soakaway system.
“You have plenty of time to make the switch and make a positive impact on the environment,” he said.
“We want to work with property owners to help them stay within the law and we want to work with them to help improve our local environment.”