Shelter Masthead

What's New in This Edition

This book was first published in 2000 and this is the first major revision. The main changes are:

1. The "Advanced Systems" chapter (formerly called "Alternative Systems"), has been completely rewritten. In recent years, many devices have become available that are utilized when a conventional gravity-powered septic system is deemed insufficient to provide adequate wastewater treatment. We now believe mounds are outdated and inefficient.

We cover recirculating sand filters, the new "trickling biofilters," effluent filters, and drip irrigation, three different devices for shallow drainfields, as well as two systems for restoring failed drainfields. There are numerous website references for further information on advanced systems.

2. Two new chapters, “Excessive Engineering and Overzealous Regulation”, and “A Tale of Two Sewers” by John Hulls, describe an unfortunate turn of events over the last decade or so in North America. Engineers and regulators have coordinated efforts in various parts of the country to force homeowners into unnecessarily hi-tech and expensive septic systems. Much of this is being done with no scientific proof of septic pollution and does not even adhere to national standards as prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Community-wide plans are often designed to be as expensive as possible in order to obtain maximum "clean water" grant funding. Individuals are forced to install environmentally destructive mounds in soils where simple gravity-powered septic systems have worked for many decades.

We describe several case studies of towns confronted by poorly-engineered, overly expensive plans devised by consortiums of engineers, regulators, and special interests. We tell homeowners what to watch out for and how to deal with this new onsite wastewater modus operandi when it appears. We also encourage you to let us know your experiences in such situations so we can continue documenting what is unfortunately becoming a national trend.

3. We describe the great importance of DNA testing to determine if pollution is human or animal in origin. Many multi-million dollar plans have been based on faulty science.

4. We have updated and added many new websites for obtaining further information on many aspects of onsite wastewater treatment and disposal.

The heart of this book is still the gravity-powered septic system, an elegant, environmentally sound, economical, effective method of dealing with wastewater. No pumps, no motors, with harmful organisms neutralized by natural soil organisms. At the same time we believe that knowing the characteristics of today's advanced devices can help homeowners in making intelligent decisions and in interacting in an informed manner with engineers and health officials.

Septic Bulletin Board

We will update readers with new information on our Septic Bulletin Board and we invite you to contact us with information you think will help other homeowners.