1. Understanding the Role of a Wastewater Soakaway

A wastewater soakaway is a versatile term encompassing the vital component responsible for managing the effluent emanating from either a septic tank or sewage treatment plant. These systems aren’t standalone; they rely on an outlet to allow the treated wastewater to safely permeate the surrounding soil. Typically, this outlet manifests as either a drainage field or a purpose-designed system, such as a deep bore soakaway or a rubble pit.

It’s essential to recognise that a sewage treatment plant stands apart by producing a notably cleaner quality of wastewater when compared to a septic tank. This elevated quality arises from the in-tank treatment process before the effluent exits through the outlet. As a result, sewage treatment plants possess the capability to release their effluent directly into a nearby watercourse or ditch, provided one is accessible, while septic tanks are subject to different regulations.

2. Exploring Variations in Types of Soakaway

a. Unveiling the Drainage Field

A drainage field, a web of pipework adorned with perforations or slots, extends its reach from the septic tank or sewage treatment plant. This intricate system harbours a dual purpose: it artfully treats wastewater, allowing it to percolate through the subsoils without any pollution concerns. The size and configuration of a drainage field elegantly adapt to the results of a percolation test, a scientific gauge that measures the property’s compatibility with this setup. It’s essential to recognise that not all ground conditions gracefully accommodate a drainage field. Excessively wet or arid soil poses challenges to its effectiveness. The percolation test serves as a discerning tool, providing insights into the ground’s nature and its readiness for a drainage field.

b. The Allure of the Bore Hole Soakaway

A bore hole soakaway, epitomised by a 6-inch diameter vertical perforated pipe, steps into the spotlight when the percolation test signals unfavourable ground conditions or a shortage of space for a drainage field at the property. This solution ingeniously provides access to more hospitable ground conditions at a deeper level. To ascertain its feasibility at the property, a trial bore hole embarks on a mission, venturing to a depth of 10 meters.

c. Elevating the Soakaway Chamber

A soakaway chamber emerges as a promising choice when the canvas for a drainage field lacks ample space. However, the ground conditions offer a warm welcome to this implementation. Confirming the ground’s suitability at the necessary depth unveils a need for a trial excavation.

d. The Rubble-Filled Pit
A rubble-filled pit, reminiscent of yesteryears, is essentially an excavation brimming with rubble, graciously accepting the discharge from a solid pipe connected to the septic tank. While it might still linger in some historical contexts, it’s no longer considered a suitable resolution for septic tank discharge.

e. Crafting Tailored Soakaway Solutions
In scenarios where every other avenue has been diligently explored, and with explicit blessings from the local Building Control department, a bespoke soakaway arrangement steps onto the stage. This includes enchanting designs like a single-line deep trench setup, which might hold the key to addressing unique challenges.

3. Essential Aspects of Wastewater Soakaway Systems

Several pivotal factors wield influence over the design, composition, and performance of wastewater soakaways:

a. Navigating Regulations

Regulations cast a protective net around wastewater soakaways, primarily geared toward shielding the environment from potential pollution. While you can explore the intricate details in our Regulations Guide, the primary stipulation underscores that a septic tank should exclusively discharge to a drainage field unless an appropriate permit has been secured for an alternative soakaway arrangement. In contrast, a sewage treatment plant enjoys more flexibility, with the option to discharge directly to a watercourse, a drainage field, or another designated soakaway arrangement – all contingent upon obtaining the necessary permits.

b. Unpredictable Ground Conditions

Ground conditions at a property exhibit a propensity for change, particularly concerning the water table’s fluctuations. These variations can significantly impact the functionality of a drainage field or soakaway, potentially leading to operational challenges.

c. Mindful Tank Use

Prudent utilisation of a septic tank or sewage treatment plant is paramount. Responsible usage of these systems not only guarantees extended service life but also ensures the longevity of your drainage field or soakaway. For valuable insights into what should never find its way into your drainage system, consult our informative article.

d. Percolation Tests: The Bedrock of Design

Undertaking a thorough percolation test stands as a non-negotiable prerequisite before embarking on the design and installation of any drainage field or soakaway system. This critical examination forms the linchpin for assessing ground suitability and determining the requisite size of the drainage field.

e. Guarding Against Tank Damage

Septic tanks and sewage treatment plants boast specialised designs aimed at preventing solid waste from infiltrating the drainage field or soakaway. Damage to these systems can result in solid waste particles seeping into the soakaway, a potentially dire scenario that triggers a drainage system surcharge. Vigilant maintenance is your best defence against such calamities.

4. How long does a soakaway last?

The longevity of a soakaway or drainage field remains an enigmatic puzzle, entwined with a web of diverse influences.

Ground conditions at the property, septic tank utilisation, and the frequency of tank emptying all intertwine, shaping the fate of these systems. While some configurations gracefully fulfill their role for decades, others may confront unforeseen challenges, leading to system surcharge or the disconcerting pooling of wastewater in your garden above the soakaway.

Should you encounter dilemmas with your drainage system, do not hesitate to connect with our proficient team today at 07902 688279, where expert advice awaits.