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  1.  
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneThe drainfield is a tad dodgy. It's basically a 10ft deep, brick lined chamber with corrugated roof material at the bottom and steel girders across the top with loose flags over the whole. I fenced it off as I didn't want my kids falling into it as it doesn't seem to be the most robust structure.

    What marktime said about terminology is correct - you must be accurate otherwise it gives the other side an out and you finish up defending what you meant to say rather than the valid point that you wanted.

    What do you mean by 'drain field'? A drain field or drainage field or leach field (all the same) is a series of land drains designed to allow the outfall of a septic tank to soak away into the ground as per the diagram from marktime.

    The land drains are typically surrounded in gravel or shingle and today would have geotex or similar over the top to delay the infiltration of soil from above and so prolong the useful life of the construction. the size of the drain field will depend upon the amount of daily out flow expected coupled with the absorbancy of the soil. Over time a drain field can become blocked if the soil conditions are bad or too much silt is discharged from the septic tank (by e.g. using the septic tank for a higher load than for which it was designed or by failing to maintain the tank or not desludgeing frequently enough).

    What you describe as a drain field as a 10ft deep, brick lined chamber with corrugated roof material etc. can not be a drain field, however as part of the structure, if you are unhappy with its safety then this will need maintenance or repair by those responsible for the maintenance of the septic tank. Again it is a letter of complaint about your safety concerns to the relevant party. It all adds pressure to get something done
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneThe farmhouse is connected to the cesspit, rather than the actual farm.

    I presume you mean the septic tank under discussion !!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2016
     
    Perhaps see if the local water co has an obligation...

    https://www.southwestwater.co.uk/media/pdf/r/t/FTS_guidance_notes_v3_09-15.pdf

    Since 1 April 1996, a new duty has been placed on sewerage undertakers such as South West Water. In addition to meeting the existing requirements of the Act, we now have an extra statutory obligation to provide a public sewer if:

     An existing sewerage system which is not connected to the public sewer (directly or indirectly) is creating problems or is likely to create problems affecting the environment or amenity;
    And if:
     Provision of a public sewer is the most appropriate solution.

    When judging whether a duty applies, we will consider whether the problem with the sewerage system could be rectified cost-effectively by repair or proper maintenance.

    The duty does not arise if there is only one building involved. The definition of building excludes sheds, greenhouses or other outbuildings not intended for human habitation.


    Failing that would it be cheaper to connect the complex to the main via a mini pumping station rather than replace the septic tank?
  2.  
    Only going off our farm. Farmhouse originally built around 1650 with modern barn and animal cesspit built around 1875. Modern flush toilets installed around the 1930's plumbed into the original animal cesspit. Have been here 18 years and never emptied and good for at least another 50 years.
    • CommentAuthormarktime
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2016
     
    I doubt that there was zero grazing in 1875 so your cesspit would have been for the dairy or occasional overwintering in inclement weather. Not comparable to the OP's case.

    OT: Until industrial farming became prevalent animal waste was highly valued and tenant farmers were prohibited from selling manure.
  3.  
    Posted By: marktimeI doubt that there was zero grazing in 1875 so your cesspit would have been for the dairy or occasional overwintering in inclement weather. Not comparable to the OP's case.

    OT: Until industrial farming became prevalent animal waste was highly valued and tenant farmers were prohibited from selling manure.


    The farm is typical of this area and the new barn in 1875 was state of the art with the realisation that animal waste needed to be kept out of the water supply as the stream going past the house is a tributary to the reservoir built to supply water to Bolton. Where not talking about disposing of the solids as that was carted out into a midden and then spread as fertilizer when the weather improved enough to spread it on the fields. What we are talking about is the washing slurry from the pigs and cattle which was handled by the cess pit and I am sure the OPs farm would be the same. Household waste systems normally came much later and where plumbed into the existing farm system.
  4.  
    Posted By: renewablejohnOnly going off our farm. Farmhouse originally built around 1650 with modern barn and animal cesspit built around 1875. Modern flush toilets installed around the 1930's plumbed into the original animal cesspit. Have been here 18 years and never emptied and good for at least another 50 years.

    A cesspit by definition is a sealed pit that requires empting when full. As I said above I have never seen a cesspit that did not leak.
  5.  
    Posted By: Peter_in_Hungary
    Posted By: renewablejohnOnly going off our farm. Farmhouse originally built around 1650 with modern barn and animal cesspit built around 1875. Modern flush toilets installed around the 1930's plumbed into the original animal cesspit. Have been here 18 years and never emptied and good for at least another 50 years.

    A cesspit by definition is a sealed pit that requires empting when full. As I said above I have never seen a cesspit that did not leak.


    Dont like your definition of cesspit. Have always understood cess-pool as being sealed. cess-pit as being porous and septic tank having two or more chambers with an overflow.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2016
     
    Wikipedia and Southern Water seem to think they are the same thing.

    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/septic-tanks-and-cesspits
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesspit
  6.  
    Posted By: renewablejohnDont like your definition of cesspit. Have always understood cess-pool as being sealed. cess-pit as being porous and septic tank having two or more chambers with an overflow.

    My definition is OK - the fact that they all leak is also a fact. They should not leak but if they did not then no one could afford the running costs !!

    Posted By: djhWikipedia and Southern Water seem to think they are the same thing.

    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/septic-tanks-and-cesspits" >https://www.southernwater.co.uk/septic-tanks-and-cesspits
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesspit" >https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesspit

    As far as I could see the southern water site differentiates between a cesspit and a septic tank and the wikipedia site differentiates between the UK and the USA quote 'In the UK a cesspit is a sealed tank for the reception and temporary storage of sewage;'
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2016
     
    Per Termium (government of Quebec...):

    "cesspool; cesspit: We haven't been able to clearly distinguish those two terms, considered as synonyms by some authors but as different concepts by others. The main distinction noted is that "cesspool" is described as a "pit or
    receptacle having porous walls ..." and "a perforated tank", whereas "cesspit" refers to "an underground pit with no set form" ..

    gg
  7.  
    I've now set the ball rolling with this again. I checked with the environment agency and there is no discharge permit in place. They are now sending someone out to check the septic tank.

    Hopefully, as someone already commented, the action of obtaining a permit will require the operators of the septic tank to comply with modern standards, which I can't see how they could do within the footprint of the existing cesspit. Hopefully they will have to go onto mains sewage or will have to build an adequately sized septic tank on their own land, well away from our stream.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2017
     
    Apologies for my earlier suggestion that cesspits and septic tanks were the same. I don't know how I got that idea; it's clearly wrong :shamed:

    Pile-o-stone, did you ever get anywhere with regard to finding the planning permissions and associated drainage plans?
    • CommentAuthordb8000
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2017
     
    Pile o stone

    Your neighbours' rights and obligations to you are primarily set out in the deeds. I would expect to see an easement in these circumstances.

    Law of nuisance is also a factor, unless the deed permits the nuisance.

    If the thing is dangerous it is right to fence it. You have liability to the public under Occupiers' Liabilty Act. (You never know who comes wandering around)

    The EA and discharge / pollution legislation sits on top of all of the above.

    I think you need to read the deed. There may be more of help than you realise. Plus if the flats were built after the deed was put in place, then the wording may not support the intensification of use. You may be able to insist the disconnect the newer properties.

    Dave.
  8.  
    Thanks Dave, I'll check out the deeds and ask around to see if anyone can give me the date when the house was converted with flats. I suspect it was before the agreement was put in place with the septic tank (the land used to belong to the owners of the manor house and so the agreements were only drawn up when the person who converted my house bought the land). From memory, the deeds just mention access for emptying and the restriction not to build a structure on top of the septic tank. I'll check them out though.

    DJH: I couldn't find any plans or permissions unfortunately. I'm pinning my hopes on the fact that they don't have permissions to dump so much waste, and that the EA decide that the existing septic tank is way too small for it's current task.

    p.s. I found the Environmental Agency slightly better than the last time I got in touch. The first person I spoke to was sucking in his breath and tutting. Unfortunately the person he passed me onto was as bad as ever and made me feel bad for even bothering him with it. Unless I can supply photos of human logs floating down the pristine brook (i.e. do their job for them), they don't seem interested. This is despite the fact we are living in a conservation area.

    "Solar panels on a garage roof? Call the police!!"
    "Human rectal waste polluting the ground and local water courses? Oh for goodness sake, don't you have anything better to do with your time than bothering us?"
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeJul 13th 2017
     
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneDJH: I couldn't find any plans or permissions unfortunately.

    Did you try going to the council and asking to see the paper copies? I think they are legally required to have them and show them.
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