Water pollution

Report water pollution, oil storage tank advice, monitoring water quality, protecting water quality during development.

How do I prevent pollution from my oil or fuel storage tank?

Any oil storage, such as tanks containing heating oil, diesel and waste oil, should be routinely checked and maintained to avoid the risk of causing pollution, through leaks and spills.

For larger oil storage on commercial sites, the tank may also need to comply with the Oil Storage Regulations. It is always a good idea to keep your domestic heating oil tank in good condition, and ideally it should be properly bunded (contained within a sealed area or unit), so that in the event of a leak, the oil will not soak away into the ground. Some sites may also need 'interceptor' drains, to trap any oil or fuel which runs off the site into the surface water drainage system.

This can cause a great deal of damage to your property and the wider environment and can be very costly to clean up. As the owner you may be liable and even face prosecution if the oil pollutes groundwater or a nearby river.

You may wish to check with your home or business insurance policy to make sure you are covered for such incidents.

Read more about oil storage advice on the GOV.UK website

You can search the following directory for accredited contractors who can give specialist advice and assistance for cleaning up oil and chemical spillages.

Oil spill contractors website

Does the council monitor water quality?

We may sample private drinking water supplies, depending on the volume and usage. In general, the quality of rivers and bathing waters is monitored by the Environment Agency. However, where there is a risk from contaminated land we may arrange for samples to be taken as part of an investigation.

Read more about water quality on the GOV.UK website.

Do I need to consider water quality as part of my planning application?

If you intend to build in an area which could affect groundwater or surface water, you may need to consider impacts on water quality as part of your planning application. The potential impacts of pollution should always be considered at the planning stage for new development, and measures put in place to prevent unacceptable risks.

Further guidance on what developers need to consider when assessing these risks is available on the following websites:

National Planning Practice Guidance - water supply, wastewater and water quality website

GOV.UK - land contamination risk management website

Groundwater in the East Riding is an important source of drinking water, and is protected by Source Protection Zones. The Environment Agency may be consulted on new development in areas which may have an impact on water quality. Sites which have been contaminated by historic industry may need to be cleaned up as part of the development.

Developers are responsible for good site management during construction, to prevent leaks and spills, and must ensure that new drainage plans have been approved and are appropriate for the type of development proposed.

Further advice on drainage for new developments is available on the Yorkshire Water website.

Do I need an environmental permit to discharge liquid effluent or waste water to surface water or onto the ground?

You may need an environmental permit from the Environment Agency if you discharge liquid effluent or waste water (poisonous, noxious or polluting matter, waste matter, or trade or sewage effluent):

  • into surface waters, for example, rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes, canals or coastal waters (known as water discharge activities)
  • onto or into the ground, for example, land spreading waste sheep dip, or discharging treated sewage effluent to ground via an infiltration system (known as groundwater activities)

Further information is available on the GOV.UK website.

Please note: Septic tanks are no longer allowed to discharge directly to a watercourse, and must either be upgraded with an infiltration system or replaced with a small sewage treatment plant. Further advice is available on GOV.UK - septic tanks and treatment plants website.

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