What It’s About

Chapter 1
The Tank

Waterborne waste from the house flows first to the septic tank. Its job is to separate the solids from the liquid and retain the solids in the tank.

Chapter 2
The Drainfield

Effluent (liquid waste minus solids) flows from the tank to the drainfield, where it is purified, then taken up by plants, evaporated, or returned to groundwater.

Chapter 3
The Soil

The soil is the receptor and filter. When the system is healthy, billions of microorganisms in the soil of the drainfield feed on, filter, and purify septic tank effluent.

Chapter 4
Down The Drain

What and how much you put down the drain affects life in the septic system. This chapter tells you how to give your system the best possible diet.

Chapter 5
Septic System Maintenance

Care and periodic maintenance are major keys to long life for your system. You can follow simple guidelines that will keep your system functioning for many years.

Chapter 6
Red Alert!

There are various degrees of failure. You will learn where to look for the problem (and in what order to look), how to diagnose it, and your choice of fixes. - read it -

Chapter 7
Graywater Systems

Graywater is all wastewater except that from the toilet or kitchen sink. Diverting it from the tank lightens the load on the system and can irrigate the garden.

Chapter 8
Composting Toilet Systems

Models from the ’70s didn’t work so well. Lessons were learned, evolution occurred, and there is a new crop of composting toilet systems.

Chapter 9
Advanced Systems

Mounds, sand filters, pressure-dosed drainfields, etc. are used where the soil is poor or groundwater high. The basics of such systems are described here.- read it -

Chapter 10
Excessive Engineering and Regulatory Overkill

You might say it all started with the Clean Water Act of 1972, when billions of dollars were allocated to clean up America’s water. With all that money floating around, it didn’t take long for some engineers and some regulators to devise a methodology for extracting the maximum amount of grant money available. It was all so easy. First, septic systems are underground and out of sight; low visibility. Second, who could argue with the idea of “clean water”? - read it -

Chapter 11
A Tale of Two Sewers

For the first group of folks it happened suddenly: regulatory agencies breezed into town, and announced that everyone was going to have to reduce the bacteria in the local bay by 75 percent … or else! - read it -

Chapter 12
Small Town System Upgrades

Many small towns face pollution control issues due to failing systems. Here are some primary guidelines in forming a wastewater district and dealing with engineers.

Chapter 13
A Brief History Of Waste Disposal

Here are some fascinating facts, along with illustrations, of the history of human waste disposal.


  1. New Information

  2. Glossary

  3. Bibliography

  4. Grab Bag

  5. Index

  6. Credits