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									                                    Bio Verte Environnement

               Sewage and Waste Water Treatment in France. How it all affects you

In France the most used systems are a Fosse Etanche (holding tank) which has no outlet and has to be
emptied regularly by Tanker, this being an expensive procedure with the necessary disposal certificate
having to be issued or the outdated Fosse Septique, which is a multi chambered tank with an outlet to a
large filter bed or in some cases to a ditch or road drain etc.

The first tank of a fosse septique carries out the primary treatment by separating the liquids and solids
using gravity. The heavy solids, “sludge” , sinks to the bottom where naturally occurring anaerobic
(without oxygen) bacteria carry out digestive activity and stabilise the sludge.
The lighter solids such as oil, grease and “scum” float to the surface and flow into a second tank via
overflows that also, because of their shape, prevent larger particles from flowing out.
The feeding, digestion and settlement of organic matter also continues in the second chamber.
The liquid effluent flows out of the second tank using gravity (or depending on levels a pump) normally to
a filter bed, or in the case of older systems, to a ditch or road drain etc.
The latter discharge methods are of course potentially a pollution threat and can have a converter
installed to ensure the waste is cleaned sufficiently to allow the fluid discharge to be of EN standard.

Waste Water Treatment Plants

A waste water treatment plant, of which there are many types, are more sophisticated units than a fosse
septique. They create an environment whereby the bacterial growth facilitates the breaking down of the
sewage into a non polluting product.
They differ greatly from a fosse septique because not only is there a primary treatment process but also a
Most require a constant small supply of electric which is used to introduce air into the plant. It is this
oxygen passing through the waste that enables the aerobic bacteria to grow and assist in the “polishing”
and treating of the sewage content therefore it is much more efficient than a fosse septique.
This higher efficiency results in a higher quality effluent being produced which can be discharged into a
road drain, small percolation bed and with the correct permission, a river or lake.

Waste water treatment plants are easier to install and also take up a lot less land in the process. Many,
like the Topaz for example, use a biological process inspired by nature. Just like a river, it is the aerobic
bacteria’s which will eliminate the pollution. The process is reproduced and amplified in the plants by
active aeration. The purifying efficiency is continuous and independent of the varying inflow of

                                       3 Rue du Moulin 53300 VAUCE

                                 Tel: 0243 08 97 54        Fax: 0243 00 63 92

Since September 2009, France has been in a state of limbo waiting for systems that already have the EN
12566-3 to pass an “evaluation simplifee” so that NF can be added to the title and a “numero d’agrement”
issued for the Spancs.

The use of NF before the EN number (NF EN 12566-3) is still a bone of contention with manufacturers out-
with France and the matter is still with the European Commission.

However in July 2010, a new list of conformity was issued in France by the Ministry of Health. This first
small list has been given to the Spancs to allow micro station d’epurations use and installation that have
been passed for NF EN 12566-3 and given their “nuero d’agrement” by the Ministry of Health.

The same rules apply for applications such as for a fosse septique. An Etude plan being required and the
application given to the authorities via the Mairie, so that they can issue their approval and also inspect
during installation.

The main features of the Topaz 5 for example, which is on the first small list of conformity in France, are:

Optimum protection of the environment
Purifying efficiency of 98%
Extremely compact with a surface area from 1.5 to 3.5 m2
5 models 1 to 20 users
Simple and quick installation
Easy to use and maintain
Low running costs on electric
Alarm in case of malfunction
Self regulating inflow
Balance tank included
Self cleaning clarification tank
Completely recyclable
Light and sturdy polypropylene tank
Easily transportable by lorry

Micro station d’epuration systems are designed to protect the environment, be extremely compact, have
a minimum surface coverage and have sizes to suit the PE number (Population Equivalent).

These different micro systems, can cater for 1 to 20 persons T5 - T20 (Assainissement non collectif) ,
houses, second homes, offices and workshops, gites , Chambres d'hôtes and small collectives up to 20
persons where larger systems such as the Topaz T30 to T300 handle 30 to 300 users and the Shannon S100
to S400 users (Assainissement collectif) for villages and hamlets, housing estates, offices, workshops and
factories, campsites, restaurants, schools and sports centres.

More information can be obtained from Bio-Verte Environnement Mayenne by contacting them via
www.bio-verte.eu or calling 02 43 08 97 54.

                                       3 Rue du Moulin 53300 VAUCE

                                Tel: 0243 08 97 54       Fax: 0243 00 63 92

Overview of private waste water treatment in France, what it is and how it works.

Like everywhere in Europe, used waste water cannot be discharged in France without appropriate
treatment either via a private waste water treatment system or a municipal waste water plant.
          “Assainissement Non Collectif or ANC in abbreviated” are all privately owned waste water
          treatment plants whatever the size (individual house septic tank or a 200 bedroom hotel waste
          water treatment plant).
          “Assainissement Collectif” which are all municipal waste water treatment plants no matter
          the size.
Any French township of more than 2000 inhabitants has the obligation to have a municipal waste water
treatment plant. Below that number, it is a choice. Many small villages will remain with only a small
municipal plant for the village centre and the rest will remain private systems. Some villages cannot afford
a municipal plant and everybody has to have a private system.
All in allthis means that France has more than 5 million private waste water treatment systems.

French regulations, the role of the Maires and SPANCS

Knowing the above, the French government has two technical regulations (arrêtés) describing :
         All waste water systems up to 20 Population Equivalents : arrêté du 7 septembre 2009.
         All waste water systems above 20 PE : arrêté du 22 juin 2007.

These regulations are based on the size of the system, whichever, private or municipal ownership.
Administratively, the Maire (mayor) is responsible of the good applications of the above mentioned
regulations on his municipality. This is of course is very difficult for the small municipalities as they have
very few means.
Because of this, the government created the SPANCs (Service Publics d’Assainissement Non Collectif) and
SATESE (Service Assistance Technique à l’Exploitation des Stations d’Epuration). The role of these
organisations is to be a technical and legal adviser to the municipalities for the private and municipal
waste water plants.

The regulation for waste water systems up to 20 Population Equivalent (arrêté du 7 septembre 2009)
The vast majority of the private systems are for private houses and fall into this regulation.
The owner is responsible for having a good functioning waste water system and if this is not the case (the
SPANC are supposed to have controlled all existing systems by end 2012), the system has to be renewed.
Technically the owner will have the choice between :
         Septic tank + drainage pipes, sand filter or a zeolite filter
        Package waste water treatment which has a government agreement.

                                      3 Rue du Moulin 53300 VAUCE

                                Tel: 0243 08 97 54       Fax: 0243 00 63 92

The choice will largely depend on the size of the project, available space, type of soil, type of use,
geographical locations etc...

A good choice is not that simple and in many cases the owner will request an Etude, consulting engineer
or a contractor to advice on the best choice.

The project having been put on paper it has to be submitted to the local SPANC via the Mairie. The SPANC
cannot impose any system but it is their role to say if the proposed system is properly sized and
conforming to the above mentioned regulation. They will give their answer via the municipality who will
then give the green light for realising the “assainissement non collectif”.

Once finished or in some cases as is normal, during the work, the SPANC will request to come and visit to
inspect, after which will then enable the happy owner to receive a “certificate de conformité” for his
All this is not free and the controls are to be paid by the owner to the SPANC.

Following that, the SPANC is supposed to control with a minimum of 1 inspection visit every 8 years, to
see that the private installation is properly maintained and it is functioning as it should do.

The investment of a private waste water installation is entirely at charge of owner but he can have a 0%
interest loan (eco prêt à taux 0) if the system he installs has no electricity.

The regulation for waste water systems > 20 Population Equivalent (arrêté du 22 juin 2007)

In these sizes a proper study/design has to be done to justify the sizing of the waste water treatment.
Also the required purification performance will depend on the local situation.
The owner/engineer are free on the choice of the treatment process so long as it guarantees the quality of
the treated effluent which will have to be regularly measured (usually once a year) by the owner

                                     3 Rue du Moulin 53300 VAUCE

                               Tel: 0243 08 97 54      Fax: 0243 00 63 92


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