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Thread: Neighbours soak away problems

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Neighbours soak away problems

    On the edge of my field there is a house, approx 16ft away from the fence adjacent to the house the field is very poachy, it's in grass at the moment. I suspect the neighbors soak away is not soaking away in his own garden but coming through and poaching my field. What is the protocol here do I have to put in further drains to deal with it at my expense or should the neighbour contribute?
    its only a small field so even the 10m2 that is sodden is missed. We've had a prolonged period of dry weather at the moment but this area is sitting in water
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Maybe a row of trees across the front on his house would be what's needed to dry it up
    also provide shelter
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    If the affected area is under water at the moment, after a dry spell, then maybe the soakaway is also taking the overfow from his septic tank. Why not have the water tested ? Does it smell at all ? Or is it potable water ? If so is he on a meter ? If not he may have a leak that he doesn't know about.

    I'm no lawyer but if it is from his septic tank I would have thought that you can make him rectify the problem.

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Are you on good terms with said neighbour or maybe you have never had any need to speak to them before but sounds like you have to approach them now to see where the problem lies.

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Is this something that has "suddenly" appeared (last year or two) or has it been building for a period of time?

    What is the soil like? is it something which could / would settle in a pipe to create blockage?

    What is the "lay of the land"? is this a natural hollow or something which should be "as dry as" the rest of the field?

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Not really had much dealings with the neighbour to be fair, didn't have a wet area there at the end of last year but only just purchased almost a year ago so not yet overly familiar with the lay of the land. There is a slope to the ground so should run off any surface water but this appears to be boiling up directly below the septic tank of the neighbour.
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Senior Member Wee Dram's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Had something slightly similar but the neighbour was keen to get a new soakaway or drain as it was boing up in his garden or at times of heavy rain under the floorboards of his house. I got him to pipe it through my field to the ditch as another soakaway would probably only last five to ten years before boiling up again.

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    There is a ditch at the bottom of the field approx 40m down hill. Would it be fair for me to ask him to pay for said pipe?
    and if I did get him to pay how does it stand for future way leave to said pipe or do I just get a pipe fitted and forget and move on?
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    If I may repeat myself, I think you are jumping the gun. Find out what the origin of the water is first. If it is septic run off then I think your neighbour could be in a spot of bother. If it's potable and he's not on a meter (or even if he is) then he should be pleased that you have investigated the issue. Never approach a neighbour, for whatever reason, unless you have all the facts at your fingertips. You have no idea how he is going to react and if you are not in command of all of the facts then you are at a disadvantage from the beginning.

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    I get where you are coming from but won't investigating the water not cost a bit to have tested? I wouldn't have any idea where to start with that either, do I get a sample to send somewhere or do I get someone to come and test it?
    help on this much appreciated
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    I would have thought that your local water board would have tested it for you. Or maybe the Environmental Officer at your local council. The problem is that you don't want to unleash a nest or hornets with officialdom. Tread softly ! I just Googled "water testing in Moray" and got a page full. If it is foul then the neighbour has to be made to pay. But get the facts first !!

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    As some may know, in my youth I was a drainage and water supplies officer for the Min of Ag. Water supply was grant aided in those days so people were keen to get mains water supply insead of from the well. I once had an enquiry from a farm where the well as very close to the septic tank. They wanted me to have the water tested!! I advised them against it strongly as it would immediately make the the local authority ban the well supply. Big expense!!
    I think it would be advisable to keep every bodies head below the parapet if you intend to pipe the water to the nearest ditch. That would probably be illegal.
    Softly, softly catchee monkey!
    Jack Caley

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    I agree with that Jack but if it is septic waste then it's the householder's responsibility to take the appropriate measures. And it the OP is worried at all about officialdom then the a sample could be sent to an independent organisation. And of course it didn't come from a field did it (wink wink) I suspect it may have come from a roadside ditch or something similar.

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    Senior Member T P's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Quattromike View Post
    Not really had much dealings with the neighbour to be fair, didn't have a wet area there at the end of last year but only just purchased almost a year ago so not yet overly familiar with the lay of the land. There is a slope to the ground so should run off any surface water but this appears to be boiling up directly below the septic tank of the neighbour.
    Once you are sure it is caused by the tank the first thing would be to check your deeds and his that the neighbour doesn't have a wayleave or easement for the soakaway. Even if he does, he will still have to maintain it. Even if there is no easement but it has been there for a long time he could have acquired the right to have it there. Piping it to the ditch 40m away is only legally viable if he has one of the new fancy revolving disc tanks. If there is a problem it's by far the cheaper to facilitate a repair ie to hire a small digger buy some broken stone and install a new pipe than it is to pay two legal eagles to play chess for a hundred hours and then some one of you's hire a small digger..........

    Opening note between lawyers:
    "Two fat geese you pluck one I'll pluck the other"

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Yes could be costly for all involved, I think I'd have to approach with caution, the best I'm hoping for is a contribution to the cost of any works required. The house is approx 18 years old and there are no way leaves on the land as I made a point of checking this out during the purchase.
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    You should be able to tell if the land is being contaminated with dirty water by the colour of the standing water.

    Wouldn't it be easier to introduce yourself to the householder,then diplomatically suggest that 'we' have a problem and then see what his reaction is.If it's dirty water it's in both of your interests to sort it out,if it's clean water then you need to know where it's coming from.

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    Senior Member LALANS's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Interesting.
    If it were normal drainage water then the downside proprietor has to accept it but from your description I would bet that there is a problem with your neighbours septic tank and/or soakaway.
    Firstly overflow from this can have serious repercussions on animal health primarily clostridial disease i.e. blackleg. So action is required to prevent losses.
    You state there is no servitude for any septic tank outfall.
    SEPA would be extremely interested in this so here is a bargaining tool.
    It is incumbent on your neighbour to foot the bill and ensure all septic tanks and soakaways are properly functioning. That's the law no ifs buts or coconuts.
    I would suggest you approach him and point out the problem, the consequences of inaction and the remedies. I would not offer to pay for anything that's your neighbour's problems.
    If a new drain is required your neighbour should foot the bill which will include all works, legals and agents fees. A new servitude for the pipe will be required at his expense and he will have to satisfy SEPA and any other relevant authority.
    What you may find is that your neighbour denies that there is a problem (no pond in his garden) and it is here that your ace card of SEPA can be played.
    On no account allow a drain through your property without a properly constituted servitude.
    Remember all your legal and professional costs should be met by your neighbour.

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    But, and in danger of repeating myself, you can't (and shouldn't) do sod all unless you know what the constitution of the water is. Soakaway from a septic tank ? Potable ? or just a busted land drain that needs attention ?

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    Senior Member LALANS's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Quote Originally Posted by zaza View Post
    But, and in danger of repeating myself, you can't (and shouldn't) do sod all unless you know what the constitution of the water is. Soakaway from a septic tank ? Potable ? or just a busted land drain that needs attention ?
    Zaza
    I am only referring to 'foul' water. Accept if its normal surface run off then its your problem.
    I suspect the sewage system for this property is shot. Very common and I have had numerous experiences with such.
    Mr General Public is a master at shrugging the shoulders and denying liability.

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Quote Originally Posted by LALANS View Post
    Zaza
    I am only referring to 'foul' water. Accept if its normal surface run off then its your problem.
    I suspect the sewage system for this property is shot. Very common and I have had numerous experiences with such.
    Mr General Public is a master at shrugging the shoulders and denying liability.
    But what if it's potable ? I say again, the OP has to determine what the constitution of the water is. Admittedly, if it's septic run-off that should probably be immediately apparent but even then, is there any possibility that it can come from someone else other than the immediate neighbour ? My angle in all of this is that the last thing anyone should do is get all fired up with a neighbour if it proves, ultimately, that it's not their fault. To know the facts is to be in control of the situation.

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    If it is of Sewage origin then it will probably be Grey and a bit smelly.
    Could it be that the outflow from the Septic tank is routed into the land drainage system? Water coming up over tends to be a blocked and subsequently burst drain. But when it as close to the tank as it seems I would have expected the tank to overflow through the Manholes rather than force its way up through solid ground. The Ditch 40 mtrs away seems a big clue.
    Bit of an exploratory dig down the slope a bit and some rodding may well solve the problem.....being the willing neighbour until you decide how the future lies.....if you know what I mean!

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    On this side of the pond, the environment department has a dye they can flush into the system which, if it is a septic problem, will then the coloured dye appear in the field.

    It could also be a drain from a clothes washer - on this side of the pond they used to connect this to the drain around the foundation and by-pass the septic.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Had a quick look at this today and the grass around the wet area of the field is a good 6" taller then the rest of the field. It could be that this latest dry spell has affected the rest of the field but the wet area is growing fine or could it be the water from the wet area is from a fert rich source?
    i still haven't managed to run into the neighbours to discuss it with them.
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: Neighbours soak away problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Quattromike View Post
    Had a quick look at this today and the grass around the wet area of the field is a good 6" taller then the rest of the field. It could be that this latest dry spell has affected the rest of the field but the wet area is growing fine or could it be the water from the wet area is from a fert rich source?
    i still haven't managed to run into the neighbours to discuss it with them.
    If you are having dry weather and part of the field is getting moisture, it is going to grow faster. I notice in my back yard the grass over the drain field for my septic always grows faster during dry weather - I think it is due to the moisture especially when all the other grass is trying to turn brown

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