Cesspit emptying and the environment

By February 5, 2019Blog
close up of septic tank opening and tube

If your home isn’t connected up to mains sewage, you’re more than likely using a cesspit or septic tank. Equally, if you run a temporary or rural site like a building plot or campsite, a cesspit or septic tank system could be your best sewage and drainage solution. Although both systems are far simpler than a mains sewage system, they do require plenty of maintenance and general looking after. This is not only because they are essential to the running of your home or site, but also because a dysfunctional system can have adverse effects on the environment.

At J H Willis & Son, we are registered waste management specialists and, because we’re registered with the Environment Agency, you can trust that our solutions promote the health of the environment as well as human health too. We regularly clean and empty cesspits and septic tanks, so we’re the best people to discuss all of your liquid waste concerns with. To learn more about keeping a cesspit and making sure it’s complying with environmental standards, read on.

What are cesspits?

Cesspits are the in the same family as septic tanks in that they act as replacements for mains sewage systems. Like septic tanks, they tend to be used in rural areas at homes or businesses which aren’t connected to the mains sewage but are close to a water source or drinking water supply, meaning a septic tank system wouldn’t be suitable. Both cesspits and septic tanks are in place to collect sewage and wastewater produced by kitchen drains and bathrooms in both domestic and commercial properties.

Unlike septic tanks, cesspits don’t have any form of drainage system which separates or distributes waste elsewhere, they simply store waste. These on-site sewage facilities are usually discreetly buried underground, with a manhole cover for access by your local waste collection team. The lack of a filtration system is the key difference between a septic tank and a cesspit and is precisely why cesspits require far more maintenance and cleaning.

The importance of cesspit and septic tank cleaning and maintenance

Cesspit and septic system maintenance can be a confusing process as both have different requirements. When it comes to septic tanks, the rules and regulations are much stricter due to the fact that they are drained out into water or onto the ground. Firstly, the waste that goes into a septic tank must be domestic. This means that the waste must come from a toilet, bathroom, shower or kitchen of a house, flat or business (used by people, for example, a pub, hotel or office). If you own a septic tank and you believe your sewage isn’t domestic, you should contact your local liquid waste management company or the Environment Agency. Secondly, your septic tank must not produce pollution. To know if your waste causes pollution, check for bad smells and poor drainage or, if you release sewage into water, check for smells, overflowing sludge and white scum or foam.

When it comes to cesspits, the regulations aren’t as strict because the waste is contained within a controlled environment, i.e. inside your cesspit. However, this means that cesspits must be periodically cleaned and emptied once a month by a registered waste handler. This does slightly depend on the amount of waste you produce, but regular cesspit emptying should be a priority if you own one. This will prevent excessive build-up, flooding and overflow.

Legal requirements

It is extremely important to prevent your cesspit from overflowing, as in the UK, owning an overflowing or leaking cesspit is an offence under the 1936 Public Health Act. Equally, if the overflow subsequently pollutes a watercourse, the Environment Agency can take legal action under the Water Resources Act 1991. The main symptoms of an overflowing cesspit or septic tank are pungent bad smells, slow drainage, wastewater backup and unusually green grass around the system.

Environmental benefits

Although looking after your cesspit or septic tank can be time-consuming, costly and require the adoption of new habits, overall it can be a more environmentally friendly solution and can keep you ‘off-grid’. So, as well as keeping you in the law’s good books, properly maintaining your cesspit is very important for the environment around where you live. The environmental benefits of regularly emptying your cesspit or septic tank are:

  • Chemicals used in septic tanks can be very dangerous if they leak into the surrounding environment, so cleaning them regularly reduces the risk of this.
  • These chemicals and the contents of your cesspit or tank can contaminate the ground with dangerous pathogens and viruses.
  • If you don’t empty your tank and it overflows, this can leads to algae blooms resulting in growth of toxic cyanobacteria.
  • The presence of cyanobacterial mass populations can lead to water quality problems and even animal and human poisonings.

Advantages for people and animals

The good thing about cesspits and septic tanks is that they rely on natural processes. Commercial waste treatment plants often use artificial and potentially hazardous chemicals. When a drainage system is connected to a septic tank and the waste is released into the tank, the waste is broken down by healthy bacteria, rendering the waste products harmless and avoiding environmental contamination.

Equally, when waste is released into a cesspit, it stays contained within the pool and, if looked after properly, won’t get released into the surrounding area. This means that communicable illness is far less likely to spread, keeping your family and your pets healthy.

Below, we list a few tips for keeping your off-mains sewage tank healthy, in order to keep you and your environment healthy too:

  • Dispose of non-biodegradable materials elsewhere. For example, grease, sanitary items, nappies, toiletries, paint etc.
  • Try not to put strong chemically-based products down your drains, including drain cleaners, bleach and antibacterial cleaners.
  • Try to limit the amount of food waste that goes down your drains, such as coffee grounds and other small bits of food. Invest in a plug catcher and a food waste bin.

J H Willis & Sons: Environmentally-friendly liquid waste removal

Here at J H Willis & Sons, we understand the importance of regularly cleaning, emptying and generally maintaining septic tanks and cesspits, both for the surrounding environment and the human population. This is why we work closely with the Environment Agency and local councils in order to minimise the environmental impact of waste products. This also enables our customers to ensure they’re complying with government guidelines and regulations.

When we visit a customer’s site, we carry out a cesspit or septic tank inspection to ensure it’s being used properly. An inspection should never be carried out by anyone other than registered waste removal specialists like ourselves; opening up a cesspit or septic tank can be extremely dangerous as, without the correct gear, you can be easily overcome by

the fumes and potentially collapse into the tank.

Once we’ve carried out a thorough inspection, we then begin the emptying and cleaning process. The waste material that we collect is brought to our three farms which cover 1,250 acres and stored in our bio treatment storage lagoons. To make the process as environmentally friendly as possible, we then use the treated waste across our crop cultivation areas in relation to the rotation of crops being grown. This returns valuable minerals to the soil which would otherwise not be utilised, for example in a commercial waste system.

Industrial waste management services in Cheshire

So, if you own a cesspit or septic tank in the Cheshire area and you find yourself wondering, “where can I find septic tank cleaning near me?”, look no further than J H Willis & Sons. Since 1965 we’ve been developing our experience and knowledge in order to minimise the effects of domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural waste disposal on the environment. As a fully licensed waste management company working closely with the Environment Agency, Cheshire County Council and Environmental Health, you can trust that our solutions are not only eco-friendly but also efficient and regulated.

If you’d like any assistance or advice on keeping a cesspit or septic tank, or you’d like to discuss waste management at your agricultural or industrial site, you can get in touch with us online or give us a call on (0151) 356 0351.