Fosse Problem

I had a new fosse installed about 5 years ago which was approved by Veolia meeting all their requirements.

A month ago I had an inspection by Veolia only to be told that my fosse now does not conform to standards and I must undertake some remedial work.

Now it seems to me that if Veolia approved the fosse 5 years ago then either they screwed up then or they are screwing up now but I cannot see why I should be expected to pay for their incompetence.

Before I start beating them up with lawyers, does anyone have any suggestions, or any similar experiences? I would very much like to hear from you, please.

And en passant, anyone recommend a good English speaking advocate within reasonable distance of Ste Foy? (i.e circa up to 100 kms)

Thanks and regards

Peter S

Just to lighten this subject up a little. The farmers seem to have the right method for disposing of this waste material without the approval of SPANC or anyone else for that matter, as we witnessed and my wife photographed this morning in E.Leclerc in Jonzac. They sprayed all of the front of the building with liquid manure and dumped the more solid variety all over the car park. Gendarmes just stood and watched. Such is the power of the French Farmers, not all like Eric Cantona in the bier advert. This would be much more effective than the water cannon Boris Johnson is trying to use in London.![](upload://jLilj3oDjXoNBuvTavVCJTnUxn8.jpg)

Yes Peter you have up to 4 years to bring your fosse up to date with the latest changes dreamed up by the vast army of french civil servants.

We discussed this a few months back on Survive France, you either update your system and pay a shed load of money in doing so or you do what millions of french people do and just ignore the recommendations and if you are unlucky just pay a small fine, which is cheaper, the conclusion we all reached on this forum was to pay the fine until such time we have a government who have got the balls to make a decision.

Please do not waste your money on trying to take on the system, they have changed the goal posts yet again, no lawyer is ever going to stop that, the latest news from fosse civil servants is that they will make concrete fosse's NON CONFORM within a few years, now how many households in france have got a concrete fosse.

Hi Michael A, yes those are the words used but the document also says:

"des travaux d'amenagement ou de rehabilitation DEVRANT etre envisages sous 4 ans"

Now this system was installed in 2009 at a cost of 6,500 Euros and is supposed to last for many years, needing a clean every 10 years or so.

So it is clearly totally unacceptable to be told after 6 years that the system is not good enough.

Notably the contractor is not responding to my letters or phone calls!!!

So that is my contract and trust me they are not going to change the terms other than at their cost.

Can anyone recommend a good English speaking lawyer as that is where we are heading.

Remember those words Peter, "system does not conform" he is not saying it is illegal, it is all a big con by the contractors to make people upgrade their system, you do not have do do it.

The only time it may need to be upgraded is when you sell the house and even then you are not required by law to pay for it.

Hi David Gay et al

Thank you all for your helpful replies and my apologies for not responding sooner but my PC has been undergoing routine maintenance.

Now the system was built by a professional contractor in 2009, supervised and approved by Veolia, Mr Fillastre no less, so In have all the requisite documents.

And it is that which pisses me off as it is the same man now telling me the system does not conform having been the inspector as it was built. ( I have photos of every stage of the construction!)

My attitude is quite simple, I employed a professional contractor approved by Veolia, and it was Veolia who approved the installation. If they want to dig the whole thing up and do it again, I should care less but I am not paying for it.

And that as they say is the rub.

But lots of very useful advice and off we go.

I will keep you posted as to events.


Peter S

I like this comment from Michael Archer. People have been doing this for years with the mandatory Food Hygiene training ... 'I am signed up to do it, (but I haven't done my mandatory Food Hygiene training)'.

Welcome to France.

Having reflected on your problem Peter I have to ask the following

1 Did you install your system yourself

2 If you did not who installed the system

3 Do you have a paper from SPANC either to you or to your contractor approving the final installation in total including the fosse septique, the filter after the fosse and the plateau d'infiltration and the appropriate ventilation of the system.

I say this because I have experience of Veolia running SPANC in the Pays Foyen. M Fillastre who seems to be the main inspector is particularly keen on ventilation. He speaks good English by the way.

If you built the system yourself then you should ask SPANC precisely what is wrong and I will bet it's got something to do with ventilation of the whole system or the filtration after the fosse septique or the amoubt of area set aside for the plateau d'infiltration/d' épandage.

If some contractor built it for you then really your argument is with them rather than SPANC. The contractor is well aware of the requirements and the local opinions of SPANC inspectors. So for a start go back to the firm who installed your system

Altenatively take the French attitude and say it works it don't smell so allez gardez vos vaches.

MUST, peter where does it say you must, all they can do is make recommendations there is no law forcing you to make changes, a small fine if you do not but that is very rare.

The rules like Veronique states change every few years, you are not expected to keep up with them.

Calm down old boy, think of your blood pressure.

It rather depends on what the problem is - it is unlikely to be the fosse itself if it is OK according to 2004 law, but it could well be the run-off pipes for treated water which have shifted - this is fairly common and does need sorting. There is usually an inspection visit (which you have to pay for, obviously, nice work if you can get it) every 2 years precisely because of ground shifting affecting run-off systems.

I assume that you live in the area covered by the Communauté des Communes Foyen . The CDC is resonsible for environmental matters and has contracted the work of SPANC to Veolia. You could try writing to the President of the CDC David Ullman explaining your problem and your dissatisfaction Copy letter to your own Maire. Contact address for M. Ullman is

Communauté de Communes

2, avenue Georges Clemenceau
33220 Pineuilh
Tél. : 05 57 46 20 58
Fax. : 05 57 46 39 53

I would put the ball back firmly in their court. My experiences with French admin of all kinds when I was living in Mayenne was if you know you are right, never ever back down. If the language is a barrier, get someone who is very fluent, preferably a French person to argue for you. To me, if Veolia approved the fosse in the first place, it conformed to the regs in place and if those regs have since changed you should have been informed at the time and given a time limit to upgrade the installation. Some communes have a subvention fund for such eventualities so worth asking at the Marie.

I fought a running battle with the Hara Nationaux over equine passports for imported horses and beat them just by being a pain in their butt.