The Truth About Septic Systems

Vested interests are making on-site wastewater disposal more costly than it needs to be. This article explains how septic systems and alternatives work and provides good background information in the event that you’re in a similar situation.

conventional gravity septic system
A conventional gravity septic system used on level ground.
Illustration by Peter Aschwanden
mound septic system
Sand mound septic systems create an unattractive landscape.
Illustration by Dave Channon
Cross-Section of Typical Drainfield
Cross-section of a typical drainfield pipe.
Illustration by Peter Aschwanden
mound system
Typical mound system. Effluent is pumped to the mound, which functions as a drainfield.
Illustration by Peter Aschwanden
healthy septic tank
A healthy septic tank with scum on the top (A), liquids flowing to the drainfield (B) and sludge on the bottom (C). Right: A tank that was not pumped out, causing it to clog
Illustration by Peter Aschwanden

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