Our new house is too far out of town to be connected to town water (hence the Water Tanks) or town sewerage. The choice was presented to us, as to what we were going to do with poopies. Water Treatment Plant, or Septic System.
So, what’s the diff?
Waste Treatment Plant – this is a powered system that filters and processes waste and waste water to recycle for watering your yard. It is not drinkable. But your grass can’t complain, so it gets what it gets. Sprinkler systems usually come with these plants, so each time you flush the dunny, your lawn will get a little drink. It is generally advised not to water the vegetable garden with this recycled
Pros – Drought. This process of turning toilet-y leavings into nourishment for the yard means you get more green spots when the rest of the country is red or brown, which means less erosion and more pretty.
Cons – The water that comes from the sprinkler has a, uh, distinct olfactory nuance. There are many parts inside the system that will need maintenance and repair. And it uses power – so it costs more, and when you get a power outage, the thing doesn’t work (it just fills up).
Septic System – the Old School idea of simply having a big ol’ concrete silo (usually in-ground) that eventually fills up, and will need emptying so you can begin working on filling it again.
Pros – No electronic bits and bobs that need watching. No routine maintenance checks carried out by a certified technician ($$). The set-up is cleaner – instead of a system that sticks up above ground with hoses the dog would very probably eat for her first breakfast in residence, there are a mere two small round concrete pads (the tops of the tanks).
Cons – Needs to be emptied every couple of years. No sprinkler distribution for recycled waste water.
I always said I wanted the plant. We have had a plant in our rental for almost a decade, and although no sprinkler was set up, the run-off area is always lush and verdant. I envisioned a year-round healthy lawn and thriving trees. So Mr Hammer (who wanted a septic system) and I went back and forth for a while over our difference in opinion.
Right at about that time, our plant malfunctioned. A plumber came out and fiddled with it. Two weeks later, the same thing happened. The plumber came back out and replaced some parts. A few weeks later, we again had nastiness coming out of overflow drains. The plumber returned with a pump-out truck and emptied it. Yet again, a few weeks later, the same thing happened. The poor plumber returned and fiddled some more, while scratching his head. Finally, one more visit later, the culprit was discovered – one lone baby wipe. We haven’t used baby wipes in quite some time, and as a rule, such things are not flushed. Obviously, one was at some point in time (not pointing any fingers at any Hammerlings, here).
By the end of this debacle, my opinion had absolutely been 180’ed. While we were not issued with this bill (one of the few perks of renting), we guesstimated the expense and I agreed, much to Mr Hammer’s relief, that we would opt for a process that didn’t; a) suck our power, and; b) have any expensive doodads to replace. The sprinkler distribution of recycled waste water was sacrificed.
As you can see from the plan above, the septic system does come with distribution channels, which are on a hill behind the house. This is where the grey water travels to soak into the earth. So during years of little rain, this area here will presumably still bear green. We hope that because it is on a rise, the area downhill will also get some of this free water.