Wastewater Treatment in Rural Areas

If you own a house in a rural area where municipal sewage is not available, you have to organize the sewage treatment on your property in an appropriate way. Wastewater produced on your property is not allowed to cause any negative effects on health or the environment. Wastewater refers to both household sewage such as toilet water, and gray water from a sink or bath that does not contain serious contaminants. It is illegal to lead rain water or storm water drainage to the property sewage.

Do the following

Do I have to Renew My Sewage System?

The requirements regarding old-fashioned sewage systems, that is, most often systems with a series of septic tanks followed by a pipe to a ditch only, have been updated. According to the legislature, such systems in rural areas must be renewed so that they meet the requirements of primary-level stage wastewater treatment. The changes are to be made no later than October 31, 2019. This deadline applies only to sewage systems in so called transition period areas.

You have to renew your waste treatment system if:

  • your property is situated in a classified groundwater area
  • your system collects domestic sewage from a building that is located no more than 100 metres from a natural waterway, or sea mean water level shoreline.

You can use the environmental administration online map service to get a rough estimate on whether your property is located within a groundwater conservation zone, or near a natural water system or sea.

Waste treatment systems meeting the following requirements do not have to be renewed:

  • the system is situated outside the so called transition period area, that is, outside groundwater conservation zones or more than 100 meters from the nearest natural water system, or sea shore (in these cases, the sewage system has to be updated whenever the property is renovated next time in such an extent that requires a building permit)
  • your property is already equipped with a sewage system that meets the treatment requirements (e.g. a small sewage treatment plant or a functional subsurface filter system), or the property is connected to a municipal or water and sewage cooperative sewage pipeline
  • your property produces only small amounts of grey water (no running water to the house or similar, and a dry closet)
  • your property located in a transition period area has applied for and received a permit from the municipal environmental protection authority to be exempted from the primary-level wastewater treatment requirements
  • the property owners are born previous to March 9, 1943 and have their permanent address at the property (so called automatic exemption according to age; NOTE that this exemption on the grounds of age is not applied for recreational dwellings and second residences, or in cases where one of the owners has their permanent address somewhere else or is born subsequent to March 9, 1943).

To whom and on what terms

Property owners who are not required to renew their system must nevertheless see to that they can give a full account on their sewage system in use, including construction drawings, user manual and maintenance instructions. The documents mentioned above are to be stored at the property premises and presented to authorities upon request.

If the sewage system does not function properly, or causes damage to the environment, you must take immediate action in order to improve its functional capacity. When necessary, the system has to be renewed entirely.

Basic information and legislation