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Greywater Management Systems


Burials within cemeteries can result in discharge of hazardous substances and non-hazardous chemical and biological pollutants to groundwater. They are covered by the requirements of the EU Groundwater Daughter Directive, issued under the Water Framework Directive 2006 and now transposed in England and Wales by the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2016 (EPR 2016).

It is an offence to cause, or knowingly permit, pollution of controlled waters other than under and in accordance with an environmental permit. Given the sensitivity of the UK’s groundwater and the ever increasing demand for clean water due to population growth and climate change, any industry which produces pollutants capable of impacting groundwater quality is becoming increasingly regulated. Cemeteries are no exception to this, with environmental permitting aimed specifically at cemeteries due to be rolled out by the Environment Agency (EA) in 2019.  

Greywater management is therefore an important day to day operation which all cemeteries should take seriously. Pumping greywater without adequate protection of staff/public and surface water/groundwater is potentially dangerous and in breach of regulations.

Whilst drainage solutions are considered to be the best option, retrofitting such solutions into existing cemeteries can be difficult and costly due to the need to hand excavate between existing burials, and where space is limited, the loss of land to features such as attenuation basins is not cost effective. Therefore, the next best option is to manage greywater by pumping and storing greywater from burials to a secure tank on site.

Greywater Cemetery Risk Assessment

CDS has experience in providing site specific greywater management systems which can be sized according to the volume of water pumped per burial, the number of annual burials and the area of available space on site. The aim of such a system is to minimise exposure to groundworkers and remove the risks posed to the public and the underlying groundwater.

The set up includes a towable bowser with low ground pressure tyres of variable sizes depending on requirements which has a built in 1” pump and pipework which can be used to pump the greywater from the burial excavation directly into the bowser. On completion, the bowser can then be taken back to the compound/yard to an above ground storage tank which is installed on a concrete raft. The pump built into the bowser can then be used to safely transfer the greywater from the bowser into the storage tank by the switch of a lever, minimising the exposure to groundworkers and removing the risk to the environment.

Once the tank is 75% full, CDS will attend site to collect a representative sample from the tank outlet, to undertake groundwater sampling to determine whether the stored greywater can be discharged directly on site to the ground or to a surface water drain (subject to consent) or whether the water is considered to be hazardous and requires removal off site by a tanker. If the water is found to be contaminated, CDS can arrange an external contractor to tanker the water away to a water treatment centre.

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