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Cesspools and Septic Tanks

What is a cesspool?

In some situations is it not possible to connect the drainage system of a property to a mains drainage system. A cesspool or cesspit is a sealed underground storage tank which holds sewage until it is emptied out and disposed of. It may be brick or block construction or manufactured in steel or reinforced glass fibre.  

What is a septic tank?

A septic tank is a type of biological sewage treatment system. Naturally occurring bacteria break down the solid matter, reducing its volume. The liquid flows out and is discharged via a drainage systems under the ground called a "soakaway" The accumulated solids need only be pumped out occasionally.

Like cesspools, they may be constructed in brick or blocks, although modern types are pre-formed in reinforced fibreglass.

Cesspool and septic tank emptying

Property owners can make their own arrangements with a private contractor of their choice. The council also offers a competitively priced borough wide cesspool and septic tank emptying service for domestic and commercial premises. Customers can have a regular visit or can order on an ad-hoc basis giving at least two working days notice in advance.

The council will advise customers directly if it becomes necessary to delay the service as a result of extreme weather conditions or any other unforeseen circumstance.

To request the cesspool or septic tank emptying service, please contact us using the details at the bottom of the page.

How much does it cost?

For details of this year's fee please view the Cesspool and Septic Tank Charges.

Can it go wrong?

The tank can overflow or may leak. This is an offence under the 1936 Public Health Act.  Also if it pollutes a water course, the Environment Agency may take legal action under the Water Resources Act 1991.

If it leaks a drainage engineer should be called out to remove the waste and clear up the sewage. The cause of the leak should be found and remedied.

How do I avoid problems?

Cesspools: Check the level in the tank regularly, do not let it overfill. Have it emptied at regular intervals: these will become more frequent if you install a dishwasher for instance

Septic tanks: Do not use excessive amounts of household detergents or bleaches, these upset the biological balance of the system. Do not overload the system by connecting rain or water drains to septic tanks or cesspools.

What if I have a problem?

Problems occur very rarely, but should be remedied as quickly as possible. If you are unable to find the problem and resolve it yourself, you will need to call out a specialist contractor.

How can the local Council Help?

The Council can provide advice on septic tanks and cesspools as well as investigate complaints of nuisance from drainage systems, leaking tanks or defective soakaways for instance. They can require the owner or owners to remedy the problem. Failure to do so can result in legal action against the person responsible under the Public Health or Building Acts.

Report a problem

If you have any concerns regarding a cesspool or septic tank or would like to report a problem with one, then please contact us using the details below.

Private drainage advice

For further advice and guidance on drainage and sewage issues, please use our contact form

Contact Details

  • Name Dudley Council Plus
  • Address 259 Castle Street, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 1LQ
  • Telephone 0300 555 2345
  • Out of Hours Telephone If you are reporting an emergency, use 0300 555 2345. If this service is closed, a recorded message will advise what you should do.
  • Opening Hours Open weekdays 8:30am to 5:00pm, Saturdays 9:00am to 12:00noon