Bibliography and Recommended Books
from The Septic System Owner's Manual

Serious Books on Septic and Water Systems

Water Storage:
Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use Paperback: 125 pages
Oasis Design (2005)
ISBN-10: 0964343363
ISBN-13: 978-0964343368

by Art Ludwig

A do-it-yourself guide to designing, building, and maintaining water tanks, cisterns and ponds, and sustainably managing groundwater storage. It will help you with your independent water system, fire protection, and disaster preparedness, at low cost. The book also includes detailed guidelines for how to make several styles of ferrocement water tanks.

Create an Oasis With Greywater
Your Complete Guide to Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems

Create an Oasis With Greywater Your Complete Guide to Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems Paperback: 144 pages
Oasis Design; 5th Rev edition (2006)
ISBN-10: 0964343398
ISBN-13: 978-0964343399

by Art Ludwig

Art Ludwig is the inventor of Oasis soap, specially formulated to provide nutrients to plants when water from a washing machine is directed to the garden. Here he has assembled a practical booklet on graywater. Why to utilize it, when not to use it, and details and drawings on 18 different types of graywater systems, from the simplest (dishpan dump) to the most complex (automated systems). Rerouting graywater from a septic tank can increase the longevity of the system, and the water — if properly utilized — can be a source of nourishment for thirsty plants. This a great resource to look through if you are interested in saving and utilizing water, and there are clear and useful drawings that can be put to practical use. Building Professional’s Supplement is an additional 48-page “work-in-progress” supplement by Ludwig intended for building professionals and regulators.

Builder's Greywater Guide
Installation of Greywater Systems in New Construction & Remodeling;
A Supplement to the Book "Create an Oasis With Greywater"

Builder's Greywater Guide Paperback: 46 pages
Oasis Design; 1st edition (2006)
ISBN-10: 0964343320
ISBN-13: 978-0964343320

by Art Ludwig

Builder's Graywater Guide is an additional 48-page supplement by Ludwig intended for building professionals and regulators.

Small and Decentralized Wastewater Management Systems

Small and Decentralized Wastewater Management Systems Hardcover: 1104 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill (1998)
ISBN-10: 0072890878
ISBN-13: 978-0072890877

by Ron Crites and George Tchobanoglous

The bible of small-scale wastewater engineering, this is a 1000-page textbook for both students and engineers, and contains the most up-to-date information available on decentralized wastewater treatment systems. It is more than a homeowner needs, but is a highly valuable source of engineering and scientific details for professionals and practitioners, as well as for small towns and wastewater districts. Since “more than 60 million people in the United States live in homes that are served by decentralized collection and treatment systems… decentralized wastewater management becomes of great importance for future management of the environment.” Although it is full of charts, formulas, and complex engineering data, the text is clear and informative, and the sections on septic tanks, alternative wastewater collection systems, wetlands, and recirculating sand and gravel filters will be of interest to people with failing systems and/or to environmentally conscious wastewater districts.

Environmental Engineering and Sanitation
Fifth Edition

Environmental Engineering and Sanitation Hardcover: 1584 pages
Publisher: Wiley; 5 edition (2003)
ISBN-10: 0471418137
ISBN-13: 978-0471418139

by Joseph A. Salvato

This book, first published in 1958 (and since updated), is “devoted to the study of the quality of the environment and to the technology of its conservation” and is a 1300-page treatise for teachers, students, and professionals in public health and environmental protection. It includes a comprehensive treatment of 12 topics of environmental concern, most of which are not related to wastewater management. However, the section on small wastewater disposal systems is very clearly written and contains a number of excellent drawings of drainfields, drainage systems, and alternative systems such as mounds and sand filters. The book stresses practical solutions to environmental problems and is a valuable resource.

Onsite Wastewater Disposal
Designing, Constructing and Maintaining Septic Systems

Onsite Wastewater Disposal Hardcover: 270 pages
Publisher: Lewis Pub (1989)
ISBN-10: 0873712110
ISBN-13: 978-0873712118

by Richard J. Perkins

The purpose of this book is “to provide information sufficient to allow a homeowner, a potential homeowner, contractor, septic system installer, or consulting engineer to evaluate the future site of a liquid waste disposal system, to identify any potential problems, and to select and design a system that will provide adequate protection at minimal cost.” Perkins provides an easy-to-read, informed discussion with a minimum of formulas. In addition to information on proper siting and soil characteristics, system design construction and maintenance, the author includes discussions of system modifications (mounds, sand filters, wetlands) and composting toilets and graywater. Recommended reading for those with any interest in onsite systems.

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems

Small and Decentralized Wastewater Management Systems Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Hogarth House (1994)
ISBN-10: 0964104903
ISBN-13: 978-0964104907

by Bennette Day Burks and Mary Margaret Minnis

The authors, both with scientific backgrounds and trained in wastewater management, purchased homes served by traditional onsite systems — only to be surprised by the dearth of information on the topic. They determined to write a book that would bridge the information gaps between the various groups involved in wastewater practices, from municipal wastewater treatment systems to manufacturers, regulators, and academics. The book is written for science or engineering students, regulators, policymakers, and interested citizens, and given the intended audience, it is no surprise that it is fairly technical, with illustrative charts and formulas. However, the average homeowner will find the book readable and informative, with interesting sections on the properties of water, on microbiology, and on dealing with the variety of wastewater regulations and regulators nationwide.

Septic Systems Handbook
2nd Edition

Septic Systems Handbook Hardcover: 434 pages
Publisher: CRC; 2 edition (1991)
ISBN-10: 0873712366
ISBN-13: 978-0873712361

by O. Benjamin Kaplan

A clear, concise, practical, slightly quirky handbook from a soils scientist and registered sanitarian in San Bernardino County, California. The author is concerned with diseases caused by improper disposal of sewage and stresses the importance of public health agencies in controlling disposal of wastewater or sewage. There is a brief description of septic tanks and drainfields, but the heart of the book is about soils, proper percolation tests, and consequences of improper disposal of sewage. Intended for professionals who deal with septic systems, but clear enough for the serious homeowner.

Home & Homestead Books

Septic Tank Practices

Septic Tank Practices Paperback: 177 pages
Publisher: DoubleDay; ( 1979)
ISBN-10: 0385127642
ISBN-13: 978-0385127646

by Peter Warshall

Septic Tank Practices (unfortunately out of print) was the first book about onsite systems written entirely for the layperson. It resulted from the residents of a small coastal town uniting to defeat a costly and over-planned centralized sewerage system that would have created a potentially massive build-out of a bucolic rural area. It is an informative as well as a charming book, which stresses the effectiveness of natural and biological wastewater treatment. It was years ahead of its time in dealing with the ecological impact of our culture’s treatment of sewage — something that has now made its way into mainstream textbooks. It has a unique chapter on soil called “Good Soil, Clean Water,” which describes the wondrous powers of microorganisms in soil, and how soil acts to filter and clean pathogens and viruses. There is a thread of do-it-yourself design advice running throughout the book, from configuration of septic tanks, to profiles of drainfields and mounds, to doing your own soil and percolation tests.

Wells and Septic Systems

Wells and Septic Systems Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2 ed (1991)
ISBN-10: 0830621369
ISBN-13: 978-0830621361

by Max and Charlotte Alth,
Revised by S. Blackwell Duncan

This is a book for people who must (or want to) dig their own well and/or build their own septic system. The first third of the book deals with septic systems, and begins with a short chapter on how septic systems work; its description of the microscopic action in the tank and soil is excellent, succinct, and clear. After pointing out that there are five million bacteria in a teaspoon of ordinary soil, the authors describe the dance of microbes, nematodes, and the like in killing off viruses in wastewater. There are then detailed descriptions for building a tank out of concrete block or casting it in place, working with sewer pipe, and constructing various types of drainfields. (Note: Building a septic tank is not a project for someone with no construction experience.) The last part of the book is a detailed description of how to dig, drill, jet, or bore a well.

Cottage Water Systems
An Out-Of-The-City Guide to Pumps, Plumbing, Water Purification, and Privies

Cottage Water Systems Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Cottage Life Books (1999)
SBN-10: 096969220X
ISBN-13: 978-0969692201

by Max Burns

This book was written for folks who have a vacation home or a second home with a private water system. It covers how the different components of a home water system work, and there are tips on installation and repair as well as troubleshooting advice if things go wrong. The illustrations in this book are excellent. Topics covered include sources of water, types of pumps and where to get them, hooking up a system, water quality, water purification, septic systems, outhouses, alternative toilets, graywater, closing and opening (the cottage), and getting water in winter.

Waterless Waste Disposal

The Composting Toilet System Book
A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems

The Composting Toilet System Book Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: EcoWaters (2007)
ISBN-10: 0966678338
ISBN-13: 978-0966678338

by Carol Steinfeld and David Del Porto

A landmark of a book, long overdue. This is a very thorough, complete, carefully researched book on composting toilet systems. Over 50 systems are described, including manufactured units such as the SunMar, Biolet, Phoenix, Clivus, and Carousel. There are also numerous ideas and construction details for owner-built systems. How to install the various systems, and most importantly, how to maintain them. The advantages and disadvantages of each system are listed. Many composting toilets promoted and built (both manufactured and home-built) 20 years ago had serious flaws, so the concept has a dubious reputation with people who encountered smelly and malfunctioning units in those days. Designers and manufacturers learned from previous mistakes, however, and the technology has greatly improved. Read all about it here; it’s essential if you’re interested in the subject.

Saving Water

Drip Irrigation For Every Landscape and All Climates
Helping Your Garden Flourish, While Conserving Water!

Drip Irrigation For Every Landscape and All Climates Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Metamorphic Press (1993)
ISBN-10: 0961584823
ISBN-13: 978-0961584825

by Robert Kourik

This book is thoughtfully laid out, carefully explained, wonderfully illustrated, and has just the right sprinkling of humor. Robert Kourik has written a clear, concise, easy-to-read book that tells you everything you need to know to install and maintain a drip system. “I have distilled into this book what I’ve learned from thousands of hours of self-inflicted mistakes.” Kourik says that instead of explaining a multitude of different ways of doing things, he’ll explain the basic principles of design, familiarize you with the best parts, and pass on some tricks of the trade. He does just that in a clear format that begins with advantages and disadvantages, then moves to why drip irrigation works, with a discussion of soil and roots. He then describes basic drip irrigation, a basic project, when and how long to irrigate, and hiding and expanding a drip system. The book also covers special areas such as drip irrigation for containers, trees and shrubs, and vegetable beds.

Vintage Stuff

Flushed with Pride
The Story of Thomas Crapper

Drip Irrigation For Every Landscape and All Climates Paperback: 128 pages
Trafalgar Square Publishing; (1998)
ISBN-10: 1857028600
ISBN-13: 978-1857028607

by Wallace Reyburn

His name may be slang in America for a toilet (the term apparently brought back by American servicemen in Britain who saw it printed on the tanks of toilets), but in Victorian England, Thomas Crapper was a plumbing superstar. In a story that is reminiscent of a Dickens novel, Thomas was apprenticed at age 11 to a plumber in London and then walked 165 miles from Yorkshire to London to begin a career that was to bring him to the pinnacle of his profession: Royal Plumber. Along the way, this enterprising and inventive man not only perfected the flush toilet, but also secured numerous other patents such as an automatically flushing W.C., stair treads, self-rising closet seats (this one never achieved popularity — too expensive), and the “wall-hung” cantilevered toilet with a cistern and all pipes out of sight (first developed for prisons and mental institutions). Crapper’s biography provides an amusing and often gossipy look at Victorian times, Victorian royalty, and Victorian plumbing. As his biographer remarks, “in his time if he didn’t walk with Kings, he at least discussed sanitary arrangements with them.”

Thunder, Flush, and Thomas Crapper
An Encycloopedia

Thunder, Flush, and Thomas Crapper Hardcover: 162 pages
Trafalgar Square Publishing (1997)
ISBN-10: 1570760810
ISBN-13: 978-1570760815

by Adam Hart-Davis

An encycloopedia (sic) of toilets, with alphabetical listing of all things lavatorial. Lots of great old drawings, interesting ephemera, and humorous historical anecdotes. A sketch of a pig loo in China, where the pigs, who hungrily wait underneath the privy chute for the feces, sometimes “jump up and snap hopefully at your bottom before you have finished.”

Temples of Convenience and Chambers of Delight

Temples of Convenience and Chambers of Delight Paperback: 160 pages
Pavilion Books; (1998)
SBN-10: 1862052662
ISBN-13: 978-1862052666

by Lucinda Lambton

“Over 150 jewels of sanitation.” A coffee table book with elegant color photos of English toilets, chamber pots, and bathroom accessories. Lucinda Lambton is an architectural photographer whose photographs are beautifully lit and carefully composed, and her introduction to the subject is witty and informative.

The Vanishing American Outhouse
A History of Country Plumbing

The Vanishing American Outhouse Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Studio (2000)
ISBN-10: 0140288686
ISBN-13: 978-0140288681

by Ronald S. Barlow

There are a surprising number of books out there on toilets, privies, outhouses, and the like. Most of them are either weird or insubstantial. This one, however, is a solid, funny, and well-illustrated volume on the subject of American outhouses. There are over 100 photos, old steel engravings, humorous postcards, and construction diagrams that can be used to build different types of outhouses. By far the best book on the subject.

Kid Stuff

Everyone Poops

Everyone Poops Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 27 pages
Kane/Miller Book Publishers; (2001)
ISBN-10: 192913214X
ISBN-13: 978-1929132140

by Taro Gomi and Amanda Mayer Stinchecum

"An elephant makes a big poop. A mouse makes a tiny poop…"

- Make sure your kids know their poop.