Sewage Disposal

Sewage Disposal

Your individual sewage disposal system for most homes in Morgan County consists of a septic tank and a drain field. The size of the tank and length of drain fill are determined by number of potential bedrooms in the house and the percolation rate of the soil respectively.  The basic function to the septic tank is to separate out the large solids in the raw sewage.  This is accomplished by slowing down the flow of sewage so that the heavier solids that collect in the bottom of the tank are partially decomposed by bacteria.  The solids which are not decomposed remain in the tank until it is pumped.  The drain field or lateral trenches consist of perforated pipe, gravel and a bedding material (usually straw or paper).  The drain field works much like a filter.  The liquid sewage leaves the septic tank into the drain field where it is dispersed in the trenches.  The sewage filters through the rock and soil or evaporates to the surface.  As it filters through the trench and soil, bacteria is decomposing the sewage.

The most common problem that arises with the system is the homeowner allows the solids in the tank to accumulate until they reach the drain field outlet and wash into your trenches.  The solids can either clog the perforated pipe or clog the vertical movement of the liquid sewage.  

The following are some suggestions that should be practiced to prevent these types of problems and others from happening to your system:

  • A "starter" is not needed for bacterial action to begin.  Additives should not be used.
  • Discharge all sewage wastes from the home into the septic tank.  Don't run laundry wastes directly into the drain field.
  • Normal amounts of detergents, bleaches, drain cleaners, toilet bowl deodorizers and other household chemicals can be used and won't harm the bacterial action in the septic tank.
  • Don't deposit coffee grounds, cooking fats, wet-strength towels, disposable diapers, facial tissues, cigarette butts, and similar non-decomposable materials into the septic tank.  It can build up in the tank and plug the inlet.
  • Use a good quality toilet tissue that breaks up easily when wet.
  • Remove the scum and sludge by pumping...every  1-3 years for a 1000-gallon tank serving a 3-bedroom home.
  • If you must use a garbage disposal, you may need to remove septic tank solids every year.
  • Be conservative with your use of water.  Each gallon of water used must be treated and disposed.
  • Wash only full loads in the washer and spread the washing out over the week to avoid overloading the sewage system in a single day.
  • Filling the tub not quite so full and not turning the shower on all the way could save 5-10 gallons of water with each bathing.
  • Routinely check the toilet float valve to be sure that it isn't sticking, causing the water to run continuously.
  • Water softener wastewater will not harm septic tank action.

                Three Reasons Sewage Must be Properly Treated Prior to Disposing

1) the prevention of the spread of disease
2) the prevention of water pollution
3) the prevention of nuisance conditions

Improper sewage disposal can lead to the spread of communicable diseases, including infectious hepatitis, typhoid fever, hookworm, and can even provide ideal conditions for the breeding of mosquitoes that carry St. Louis Encephalitis.

If you have any questions about how to best use your septic system, please call our Environmental Health Office at 217.245.5111 #32

Carol Hungerford,
Apr 15, 2015, 9:36 AM