A method for disposing of sewerage in rural areas with no drains.

Waste water flows into one or more big tanks and the solid stuff sinks to the bottom. Bacteria eat away at the waste and margianaly cleaner water then flows out to pipes with little holes in them which run under your garden keeping your lawn nice and green even at the height of summer.

If you kill the bacteria eg. with bleach, it will start to smell.

Be careful with your septic tank. Ask me how I know.

Things to avoid:

  • Putting anything solid in your toilets that hasn't already been digested. This stuff takes too long to decompose -- even if it's food waste -- and builds up in the sludge layer at the bottom of the tank. Eventually, the sludge layer builds up to the point where it starts going out with the effluent, which will plug up the holes in the drainfield, causing system failure and necessitating the digging of a new drainfield (upwards of $10K).
  • Parking -- or even driving -- your car over the drainfield. This can crush the drain lines, causing beaucoup problems.
  • Digging near the sides of an older tank. Here's my personal story about this one. While having some construction done, to build a roof over my patio, the contractors had to excavate down the side of my tank, which is over 20 years old. It turns out that the interior had eroded, and when the backpressure provided by the soil was removed, the pressure caused by the weight of a thousand gallons of wastewater in the tank blew out the side. Thus, I got a new septic tank at great expense, when I could have just let it be and it would have taken 5 to 10 more years to fail on its own.
  • Driving a backhoe over the tank. This will collapse the tank and force removal of the backhoe by winch.
  • Not having the tank pumped regularly. Your county health department can give you the recommendation on how often to do so, based on the size of the tank and the number of people in the dwelling. The results of doing this are identical to those of the first bullet.

Most people with septic systems tend to forget they even exist. This is a bad long-term strategy, leading to expensive repairs down the line. A septic system (technically called an onsite wastewater treatment system) is an actual, working appliance which needs regular maintenance in order to function properly and not surprise you when you least expect -- or can afford -- it.

At the end of the day TJ was telling Maurice how to build a septic tank. A whole lot of country boys work in construction, they like to live on the land, by themselves. Generally they like a woman around too, only women require indoor plumbing. Ain't no secret why Ted Kaczynski lived alone. I imagine he was pretty ripe. But then i suppose Shania Twain would get pretty ripe without a bath, only you'd be too ripe yourself to care.

But Maurice is married and his wife cares. So that meant a well. Electricity, and a septic tank. But ol' TJ has built three or four himself, so he told us all.

To build a septic tank you first need a P-trap to keep the bad scents down. You come from there straight out of the basement into a nice, big steel box. That's the tank part of your septic. It's a good idea to T-that pipe, with a wide opening above ground to give yourself a clean-out. Turn that drain pipe ninety degrees down. Then you need some kind of a baffle to ensure the solid stuff stays down and the wet stuff comes up.

The baffle can be damned near anything. TJ told me he knew one guy who'd chucked an old steel bathtub down to the tank. He didn't know how it worked but it did, that tub served to keep the pressure equalized between field and home. The tank needs some kind of opening so it can be pumped out, and so stuff like bacteria can be put inside. Somethng has to eat your used beans. Then you take another ninety, also pointed down on the other side of the baffle going out to your drain field. Good idea to put in a clean out here too.

Now most places require a a drain field to let the water leach into the ground. What you do is snake out about 900 feet (300 meters) of four inch flexible drain tube, so it all has a nice spot to drain into. But TJ says you don't have to do that-- if the county doesn't care. just get yourself a backhoe, and dig a honking big hole. Drop in your 900 feet of drain tube and backfill with gravel, then cover with dirt before the county shows up. TJ says it works.

Then comes the piece d' resistance. You go to the local farmer, and for a buck and a half you buy three chickens. Wring their necks, then drop them in the tank. That's it. No fancy chemicals, enzymes or bacteriological stock required. Just fowl play.

I don't know why it works. Maybe the needed bacteria are already in chicken gizzard and all it takes is a good rotting corpse to bring out their best. Whatever, TJ's grandpappy has been dropping dead chicken in his septic tank every year for a generation and hasn't once had to pump.

Me, I think it's voodoo. You make a nice healthy sacrifice to Joboo, stick a few pins in a doll of your ex-girlfriend, then go in and relieve yourself. Voodoo does the rest. Home maintenance and pagan ritual all in one sanitary system.

And you don't even have to pluck.

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