Submitted by Kenn Garder, Technical Support, NPI/GPI Corporate Office
When we flush or drain a sink where does the water go? In a public sewer system, wastewater is channeled to a water treatment plant. In a house without public sewer access, a septic tank and drain field are the most common method of treating wastewater. The owner of the property is usually responsible for maintaining the septic system.
A traditional septic system has four main components: a pipe from the house, a holding tank (septic tank) a drain field, and the soil. The septic tank is a buried water-tight container that can be made of concrete, fiberglass or polyethylene. Wastewater is held in the tank long enough to allow the solids to settle out, creating sludge and oil and grease to float to the surface creating a scum on the top. This allows for bacteria to start the decomposition of the solid materials. To keep this type of system in good working order, the scum and sludge need to be removed by pumping water and solids that build up in the septic tank.
A way to increase the decomposition of the solid material is to use an aerobic septic system. This system is similar to the traditional system, using the pipe, tank, drain field and soil. However, the aerobic system uses oxygen to support the growth of aerobic bacteria that digest the solids more efficiently than a traditional system. This provides a high-quality wastewater treatment alternative to traditional septic systems.
It is estimated that two-thirds of the land in the United States is unsuitable for the installation of septic systems. The lot a house is built on may not have enough land area for the drain field, the water table may be high, or the house may be located close to a body of water, increasing the chance for wastewater pollution if the septic system does not work properly.
An aerobic system, while not the solution for every situation, offers a reasonable alternative for difficult sites when installing a new septic system or replacing an existing system.