Wastewater and Rainwater Soakaways: Everything You Need to Know

At Coastal Drains, we take great pride in our expertise in all aspects of drainage, and we are more than happy to share this knowledge with our customers when they need it. This includes providing quick, easy guides on points of drainage systems, such as soakaways.

Below, we have provided you with everything you need to know about two different types of soakaway, and are ready and waiting for your call if you need further assistance.

If you already have a soakaway installed on your property and you know there is a problem, contact us and we can send our qualified drainage engineers to inspect it for you, before they come up with the best solution to get your drains flowing again.

What is a Soakaway?

A soakaway is an efficient and low-environmental impact way of dealing with either foul or excess surface water in your drainage system. Depending on the type you have, the pipe which runs to your soakaway will either come directly from your property (usually a gutter), from an area where there is an overflow of surface water (via a system such as a French drain), or from a private system such as a septic tank or sewage treatment plant.

The purpose of a soakaway is to discharge and percolate the water coming through it back into the surrounding soil. In the case of a rainwater soakaway, this is to prevent the greater volume of water from bad weather (also called runoff or storm water) entering the main sewer system and overwhelming it. This process can also prevent the land around your property, such as your garden or drive, from flooding and not draining when it rains hard.

If you have a soakaway attached to a septic tank or sewage treatment plant, your soakaway will discharge the treated wastewater which has come from your property. This is one of the few legal remaining methods for disposing of treated wastewater from a septic tank, as by the new official Binding Rules, you cannot allow it to be released into a watercourse or ditch.

What Does a Soakaway Look Like?

How your soakaway looks will depend on the type of soakaway that you have. Below, we have described some of the most common ways that your system can look:

Wastewater: This type of soakaway (also known as a drainage field) will always be connected to a septic tank or sewage treatment plant. They look like a series of perforated pipes laid in trenches in an area of land around your property, usually your garden or a field. The area around these pipes will then be covered over, usually with stones or gravel and turf, with the treated foul water being discharged into this land.

Rainwater: Rainwater soakaways will usually be made from plastic modular storage cells, often known as soakaway crates because they resemble old-fashioned milk crates. These are placed in a pit on your land, and may be connected to guttering from your house, or attached to a French drain (or another type of land drainage pipe) installed somewhere in your garden.

Before being hidden under the ground with a layer of shingle and turf, crates may also be covered over with a geotextile membrane, to prevent soil from infiltrating the system.

The Benefits of Installing a Soakaway

When you install a soakaway, you will be pleased to know that they come with a number of benefits attached that can help both you and your property:

  • They are low maintenance
  • They can be fitted retrospectively
  • They help the natural process of recharging underlying aquifers
  • They reduce the risk of flooding by taking surface water away from sewer drains
  • They are cost-effective when the land is available
  • They reduce the risk of waterborne diseases

Another benefit particularly attached to rainwater soakaways is that they are simple to install, with some professional advice on what to do to help guide the way. Below, we have explained this process for you, so that you can have your very own rainwater soakaway before you know it.

If you need to install a new drainage field soakaway for your septic tank or sewage treatment plant, either because it is blocked or damaged beyond  repair, please contact us today. This task is one which is best handled by the professionals, as your entire system may also need replacing as well.