A Visit from the Honey Wagon

| 10/31/2011 7:41:54 AM

 By Cam Mather

WARNING: This blog may gross some people out. But I thought I’d write it anyway, since it’s a reality of country life. Well, it’s sort of reality for everyone, but in the city once the toilet is flushed, it’s pretty easy to not think about where stuff goes and how it’s treated.

In the country this isn’t the case. You have a fairly direct relationship with what gets flushed down the toilet. In our case, like many rural homes, we have a septic system. We have an underground septic tank not far from the house, which is a large concrete tank with two chambers. When the toilet is flushed, or a sink or bathtub is drained, the material flows into the first tank. Solids sink to the bottom. The liquid part flows into the second chamber where more solids can settle out, and then what’s left flows out into your leaching field or “weeping tiles.” (“Weeping Tiles” is also the name of the band that Sarah Harmer was in before she went solo.) The weeping tiles are perforated and the liquid flows out into the gravel then into the soil and is broken down by bacteria. In our case we have amazing sand that filters the liquids as they return to the water table.

The graphics below are from Bill Kemp’s “The Renewable Energy Handbook.”

This process can take a while, but ultimately anytime I flush anything down my drain or toilet, I assume it can end up back in my drinking water. So we’re careful. I clean the toilet with borax. We never use harsh cleaners and we keep this in mind when purchasing soaps, etc. We posted a video on YouTube where Bill Kemp attempts to explain this concept. He suggests that a few weeks after flushing the toilet they could be drinking that water, and some of comments posted under the video suggest that people are either appalled by the concept or don’t really get the concept. There is some filtration involved in the process. (The video is here;  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aansFzgV1SQ)

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