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Conventional Septic Systems

Onsite wastewater treatment systems are used to treat wastewater from a home or business that does not have access to an organized wastewater collection service, and thus returns treated wastewater back into the receiving environment.  They are typically referred to as septic systems.  Click here for more information on types of septic systems.

The term “septic” refers to the anaerobic bacterial environment that develops in the tank and which decomposes or mineralizes the waste discharged into the tank.  Septic systems of this nature provide approximately 10-20% of there treatment ability in the tank, the rest of the treatment process takes place in the soils in which the wastewater is distributed.  These types of systems rely on the soil to effectively treat wastewater to a safe level prior to its re-introduction to groundwater or surface water drinking supplies. 

 
Conventional Gravity Flow System:
A conventional gravity flow system is a septic system where the effluent from the tank gravity flows into the drain field.  There are some different drain field technologies available to choose from. 


Gravel and Pipe Trenches:
A drain field composed of a series of trenches filled with a minimum one foot of gravel and a four inch perforated pipe.  The gravel serves as storage space for the wastewater until it enters the soil.  The trenches are covered with a fabric barrier to prevent the downward infiltration of soils into the gravel layer.

Pros- Relatively low maintenance costs with regular pumping.

Cons- Only permitted in specific soil conditions.  No on-board alarms or monitors and maintenance and inspection visits are widespread leaving the system more susceptible to abuse without warning and notification.

 
Leaching Chambers:
A leaching chamber is a commercially available plastic chamber molded into a dome shape.  The chamber top is solid in an attempt to support the soil above it; the sides are louvered; and the bottom is open to allow the water to exit. The leaching chambers store the wastewater until it enters the soil.  Leaching chamber systems handle wastewater in a similar manner to conventional gravel and pipe systems, the primary difference being in how the trench is constructed.

Pros- Jernan Construction is yet to find the benefits of this product, short of ease of installation. 
 

Gravel-less Pipe:
A drain field composed of a network of relatively large diameter, 8” or more, perforated corrugated pipe that is used instead of gravel and pipe.  The diameter of the pipe is intended to provide storage of wastewater until it enters the soil.

Pros- Relatively low maintenance costs with regular pumping.

Cons- Only permitted in specific soil conditions.  No on-board alarms or monitors and maintenance and inspection visits are widespread leaving the system more susceptible to abuse without warning or notification.  No rigidity to product, therefore limiting its durability.  

 
Soil Substitution System:
A septic system where the drain field may be constructed in gravel, rocky, or other soil substrates of high permeability where the septic tank effluent could rapidly reach groundwater without having undergone adequate treatment through soil contact.  These systems are constructed similarly to a conventional system with the exception, of the requirement of a 2-foot thick substituted soil buffer below and on all four sides, of the drain field excavation. 

Pros- Relatively low maintenance costs with regular pumping.

Cons- Only permitted in specific soil conditions.  No on board alarms or monitors and maintenance and inspection visits are widespread leaving the system more susceptible to damage by abuse without warning or notification.  These systems are expensive due to size of excavation and typically rocky soils.

 
Low Pressure Dosing System:
A low pressure dosing system is a septic system that utilizes a pump to provide equal distribution of wastewater through the drain field.  These systems are composed of a series of tanks, a pump, and a small diameter piping network to distribute the effluent to the soil.  An alarm circuit is installed on the pump to allow notification of pump failure.

Pros- This system is designed to provide equal distribution through out the entire drain field that could lead to longer drain field life.  Relatively low maintenance costs with regular pumping.  This system can be used in some places that conventional septic systems would not be permitted.

Cons- There is the possibility of pump failure and need for replacement.  System requires a small amount of electricity to operate.

 
Mound System:
A pressurized system, similar to a low pressure dosing, where the drain field is constructed above the native soil surface.  The mound consists of a distribution area installed within fill material placed on the native soil surface.  These are relatively uncommon in our area.

Pros- This type of system can be used in relatively shallow soils.  This system is designed to provide equal distribution through out the entire drain field that could lead to longer drain field life.

Cons- Relatively expensive due to construction requirements.  There is a possibility of pump failure and need for replacement.  System requires a small amount of electricity to operate.