It’s not a pretty topic, but it is definitely a necessary one. In fact, 5% of homes in the UK are too remote to connect directly to the main sewer line and so knowing about wastewater treatment systems could be more important than you think. After all, that waste needs to go somewhere and a system that is not up to code or correctly installed can cause terrible environmental harm. 

But where are you supposed to start with all of this? There are septic tanks, cesspools, and sewage treatment plants (a.k.a wastewater treatment systems) which just makes things extra confusing. Well, thankfully for you there is a fantastic and speedy guide that will help you through the process. All you need to do is scroll down and we’ll do the hard work. 

The Difference Between A Cesspool, Septic Tank, & Wastewater Treatment Plant 

When you look at building regulations, they state that you will need a cesspool, septic tank, or sewage (wastewater) treatment plant installed so that you can connect to the main sewer line. But what’s the difference between these three systems? 


This is also known as a cesspit and is basically a sewage holding tank that has no outlet and no way to treat the waste that goes inside it. The waste just flows into the tank and is stored there before being removed by a specialist lorry in 6-8 weeks when it is full. It is completely sealed, but it can be vented to allow excess gas to escape.

Septic Tank

These are multi-chambered, which means they can treat and discharge the liquid part of the sewage. The liquids and solids are separated in the first tank and the liquid flows out of the tank and is discharged to land, where it is cleaned as it percolates through the soil.

Sewage Treatment Plant

There are domestic and commercial options available, and these are essentially a higher-powered version of a septic tank. They are more complex and treat sewage to a higher standard to ensure there is no negative environmental impact. It’s the best option to go for because of this, even though it does tend to require more maintenance in its lifetime. 

Septic Tank Or Wastewater Treatment System?

Since septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems work in such similar manners, it is understandable that there would be a question over which one is better. The short answer is that you should pick a wastewater treatment system, but here’s why:

  • Wastewater treatment plants are more environmentally friendly 
  • You can discharge to rivers or streams without harming the ecosystem 
  • They are more efficient when handing sewage 
  • They require electricity to run but this means they can handle more 
  • They can be shared between properties without clogging issues 
  • There are several types and sizes to choose from 
  • Many septic tanks have to be replaced by wastewater treatment systems by law 

What Size Wastewater Treatment System Do You Need? 

This really depends on the property, the number of people staying there, and whether it will be shared by more than one household. However, you also don’t want to go too small and so it is strongly advised that you work with potential occupancy as opposed to how many people are actually there. 

A good base example would be that if you are getting a wastewater treatment system for a three-bedroom property then the size you choose will need to be suitable to serve five people in order for it to work effectively. If you want it for commercial use, you are going to need to consider population equivalent, which you can investigate further with an advisor. 

Who Can Install Them & How Long To Get Them Started

You need an expert to install it, and they have to be a licensed professional in order to do so. This isn’t something that you want to have done wrong, especially as it could end up being expensive to rectify. 

As for how long it takes to work, you only need about six weeks before it is up and running fully. However, it is possible for you to speed the process up. All you need to do is line the unit (also known as seeding it) with sludge from an operational aerobic sewage treatment system.

To Conclude 

We hope that this guide has been able to give you all the information you need as someone who is looking into getting a wastewater treatment system installed. They are a lot more important than we think, and there is more to it than just picking one out of a lineup. That’s also why we at Filta are here to offer you assistance any time, just give us a call and one of our experts will be there to answer your questions and take you through the process.

If you’d like more information about wastewater treatment systems be sure to visit Cleanawater.

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