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A cesspool is a covered watertight tank used for receiving and storing sewage. It has no outlet.

The following notes are for guidance only. You should consult the Environment Agency about any cesspool.

  • it is essential that ground or surface water cannot get in, and that it does not leak
  • you must empty your cesspool regularly and not allow it to overflow. Emptying services can be found in the local phone book. You are advised to get several quotes as prices can vary considerably
  • the average household of three people will produce seven cubic metres of sewage (the capacity of a typical emptying tanker) in about three weeks (about 100 – 150 litres of effluent per person per day)
  • ideally, a cesspool should not be closer than 15 metres to any dwelling. It should be as far away from the nearest watercourse as possible – normally not less than 10 metres
  • the minimum capacity of a cesspool is prescribed by the building regulations as 18 cubic metres (18,000 litres). It should provide at least 45 days’ storage
  • you do not need consent from the Environment Agency for a cesspool
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