Septic Tank Diagnostic

Just had a letter from SAT (Syndicat Armagnac Tenareze).They want to come and asses our septic tank and charge us €120 for doing it.

This seems a bit random, we've owned the place for 9 years and haven't had any problems, its a holiday home at the moment.

Has anybody had anything similar of late or otherwise?

Yep we've had a diagnostic but were not charged... we have to make amends to the tank within 2 years

We had a (chargeable) visit for our (non compliant) fosse a couple of years back. The SPANC man told me it would cost X (can't remember how much but I do recall thinking that it was flipping exorbitant) but...that if I agreed to upgrade the system then he wouldn't charge me.

So of course I did. Verbally. :)

We knew our fosse didn't comply with any regulation known to man when we bought the property in 2009 but I'm not planning to do anything until forced to. Which I should imagine, will take some time. In any case, the center of the village is now being re-vamped and mains drainage being installed. At the moment we are too far away but in the future, who knows?

Like Neil, I've heard mutterings of funding for upgrades and that's another reason to sit tight.

Mind you, I probably won't be saying that the next time the thing backs up!!

Here you will find the relevant decree which includes the 2012 amendments.



This is the third time I've tried to complete the above sentence (James I think Flash is screwing your website - CPU goes through the roof with the ads).

Keith I didn't know you were in this business. Happy to take your advice any time. For those that are not within your catchment area, such as ourselves, caveat emptor.

Keith I didn't intend to call you a hustler

We are waiting to be SPAINCed but no sign of them yet. Our Fosse probably wouldn't make the grade but the local consensus is that if it's working OK day to day then there's no real problem until if and when we sell. One of the issues seems to be that while there are EU standards the French standards haven't been ratified yet so installing a new treatment system now is bit risky for future compliance tests. We've had a few quotes but fosse sales people all seem to be hustlers. We'll move on this slowly.

We had all this nearly ten years ago when we told that the commune either had to get it's resident's to install conforming tanks or provide a system for the commune. There are only 42 people in our commune so highly unlikely that a system will be installed. We have two septique tanks, one behind the house and the other, behind the barn, which we have not found. They were "inspected" by a teenager who just looked about, declared that the system was non conforming and went away. We were told that there would be a meeting in the mairie within 3 months to discuss the situation-no meeting ever took place. We were also told that various grants would be available and in some cases all the work would be carried out for free. No inspection fee was charged and the whole matter faded away!

Compulsory periodic inspections began in 2005 but of course it has taken years to get around all properties.

The size of the tank is based on the number of bedrooms with the latest norms being a minimum tank of 3000 litres and an additional 1000 litres for every bedroom above 3 - even if you are just a couple living there.

There is obviously a lot of inconsistency regarding the cost of the inspection and the frequency - the normal gap between inspections should be 4 years. If found to be unacceptable existing owners have 4 years to put it right unless causing environmental nuisance etc.

SPANC are the overall inspection body but they authorise other qualified companies to act on their behalf in different areas.

When you sell your property you have to provide a report done in the last 3 years. If the new owner takes on your non compliant system they have to put things right in the first year of ownership.

If in doubt check with the Mairie.

here in the Lot we had our 1st round of visits 4 yrs ago for which we paid 15euros per yr we have just had our 2nd visit but the charge has risen slightly to 70euros but will still cover four years.....had a full report after inspection only recommendation is to have our bac a grasse cleaned out. Now have a record car to record all waste removed and if we sell the house all reports and the record card will have to be produced for the notaire !!

more french red tape !!

It is national - we have just had our new system passed here in Brittany and it cost 35 euros. Let's face it we all want safe water supplies and this is part of their job to maintain standards and make sure foul water is not entering the chain

We had ours done last October. They sent a report which he said would take about 6 weeks and it did. Needless to say it did not conform; mostly because I wasn't sure whereabouts in the field it was placed, but as it is only advisory, it does not need to be done. Apparently there is no law to enforce it and with the cost of replacing one being so much money most of the old and poorer people would not be able to have it done anyway.

They sent us a Facture for €90. I seem to have heard somewhere that this would be an annual charge or fine type thing, but can't remember where I read or heard it, so it could well be wrong.

Had the same thing. Our septic tank and épandage met standards when installed twenty years ago, based on renovation work that might give us five bedrooms. The inspection team tried to tell me that the goalposts have moved and based on the number of square metres of living accommodation, the septic tank is apparently not large enough for the _potential_ number of occupants who might occupy living space...

I told them that (a) there were only two of us living here at present and that (b) that even when four of us were living here the tank was oversize and we didn't use up the full capacity. The inspectors went away and decided not to bother with me. However, I only seem to pay 35€ a year for the privilege of this ridiculous inspection.


Had ours checked and passed by an organisation called SPANC, not charged anything.

It seems really different from region to region: here about 2 years ago someone came inspected the fosse but we never have had any, whatsoever, fee to pay and never a invoice arrived.

Tony, I checked the SAT web site and they are the one, in your region, who would check if your septic system is working properly the cost is also about right, we paid to our SPANK 150 euros and that was two years ago.

It is the organisation which is authorised to do the requires SPANC inspections in your area. See

The price is about right. I've just been charged 173 euros for a cursory visit to approve some relatively minor alterations to my system. I was overdue for a biennial visit anyway so it's not too bad.

This is in no way a random thing. The communes / villages will inspect each and every "assainissement non collectif" as of 2012. The cost are incurred by the property-owner. This is due to new environmental legislation of the Grenelle-2. The commune can ask the SPAINC or an qualified society to carry out these inspections. You have to give them access to your property and pay the bill. If you resist they can and will fine you. 120 Euros is at the top end, but still within norms. But you can always check with the "mairie" to see if they indeed engaged this company for those inspections.

Even if your installation might have been "aux normes" when it was built, this might not be the case now. I have a 35 years old system which works just fine. The SPAINC-guy came along for the inspection and I told him that the commune was going to install a community sewer system within two years. Big surprise for them as obviously the village and the "Commune des communes" don't communicate too well. Hence no inspection, no costs... they've started digging up the road 3 weeks ago :-)

Why not sending a very nice & friendly letter, saying thanks in advance for the likely high level of commitment and care-taking? Of course that you are happy with such highly appreciated estimation on the condition that sufficient time is available too (it's a holiday home) so that a truly professional report may be filed, - and go to the bottom of such scam. You may send a copy with a comment to your mairie...

We have had people to check the tanks (just turn up out of the blue it has to be said) and they do not charge. Sounds like one of the many scams that we receive in the mail on a regular basis. My favourite is the one that demands in the region of 500 euro for training apprentices with a very dodgy Republic header. Also had a phone call the other day from a company who claimed to have been employed by the commune and wanted to come and check our buildings for serpents, of course there would be a charge. Total lie and they were told where to go in no uncertain terms.

If in doubt I would ask at the Marie and see if they know anything.