septic vs. sewer - which is better?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ellebeaux, Jul 15, 2006.

  1. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    I think I know the answer to this question but I want to ask other members. I think septic because the sewage is confined to a small area, it takes less energy to run and is more 'self-sufficient'.

    So why do cities require you to use the public sewer system?

    Any other thoughts? Just trying to educate myself here.

    Thanks,

    Beaux
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Septic tanks have to have a leach bed to get rid of the fluids coming into it. Most city lots are too small to have a leach bed.
     

  3. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    in areas like mine where many home owners have enough land to support septic and yet are required to hook on to sewer, i feel the municipaities require the hook up to generate a large volume of business. this allows sewer expansion projects which lead to development. i think if the developers were hit with the true cost of maintaining the sewer for their projects that it would cut too deep into the profits. municipality leadership seems to appreciate the larger tax base generated by development and choose to encourage it. i could go on to say it is all a conspiracy of sorts involving business interests and kickbacks of and to the leadership but folks would call me crazy. :shrug:

    in other words ,the little guy has to pick up the tab for the infrastructure needed by the profit hungry developers.
     
  4. Countrybumpkin

    Countrybumpkin Well-Known Member

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    I agree w/ MELOC-I work for the sewage dept of our local town, and see all the time where the city will put in a new line for a subdivision, then require everyone that has that new sewer by their property to hook in, no matter the age and condition of their private sewage system. I feel that the property owners should not be allowed to put in a new septic system should theirs go bad, but be allowed to keep their present system until such time a new one is needed. But who am I? Then if their property is out of the city limits, they get a surcharge tacked on to their bill! All they want is the $$ that comes from everyone hooked in...another way our government is looking out for the health and welfare of the people... :grump:
     
  5. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i also want to discuss the actual sanitation of the two systems. a dense population coupled with improper septic systems in the right (or wrong as it were) geological area, can contaminate ground water. so can poor farming practices. this becomes an argument for public sewer systems. however, i have seen far too much improperly treated waste water dumped into tributaries of the chesapeke, from several different municipalities, when the systems were overwhelmed. this can result from equipment failure or from flooding. i bet if you were able to quantify the level of pollution of both the failed sewer systems and improper septic systems, it would be about the same.

    i am against mandatory hook-ups in areas where folks have enough land to use a modern septic system.
     
  6. Countrybumpkin

    Countrybumpkin Well-Known Member

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    We have about1 dozen overflow pipes in our town, whereas in a heavy flow situation the raw sewage is diverted into a stream or river. Of course, that is only in an overflow situation, but still, that sewage is going into our waterways. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, thousands of gallons of waste is going somewhere, perhaps in the same creek we play in. Not :shrug: much we can do, people do not want to pay for upgrades, but they sure complain when overflows happen. Catch 22 here... :shrug:
     
  7. Selena

    Selena proud to be pro-choice

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    My neighboring town did not have their sewage system secured and some teens disabled the backup battery and shut down the system, dumping 150K gallons of sewage into the river. Of course no one knew until 10 days later but rest assured, we're told it "poses no threat".
    I prefer septic as one has control over the situation. In too many areas, the sewer systems are outdated or undersized. New sewer pipes in a close by subdivision failed twice, making messes of basements. 1st time construction problem (wonder why when growth is unchecked and everything is rush, rush for the developers), 2nd time rags were in the pipes - I can't remember their explanation for that one. A relative of mine (she's ill to add insult to injury) had sewage backing up in her tub. Come to find out, when the previous owner added the garage, he built it over the sewer pipe! Fortunately the pipe was broke under the driveway which was mostly gravel but still a $1700 job to dig it up, get it fixed, and bury it back.
     
  8. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Septic systems are fine when the population density is sparse. One thing most people do not realize is that even a properly working septic system contributes about 50 pounds per year of nitrate to ground water (4 person family). Our drinking water standard for nitrate is 10 parts per million. In other words, a properly working septic system has the potential to contaminate about 120,000 gallons of ground water per year.
     
  9. Shadow

    Shadow Well-Known Member

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    if you have the choice sewer, we have four septic tank systems here on the farm. right now one needs a new field line, leech field thats about 1500 and two of the tanks need pumping thats 185 each wish we had the choice.
     
  10. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Neither! a composting toilet or "out house" is best.
     
  11. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First choice, composting toilet (not an old fashioned out house), and a well run and properly operating city sewer system is going to be better than hundreds of small septic systems scattered over the countryside. It is VERY is to have too many septic systems in an area, as no one seems to care how many there are. Forty per square mile is an upper limit that I was told from an expert in ground water, more than that and there can be increasingly serious ground water contamination issues.

    Notice that I said a "well run and properly operating city sewer system".
     
  12. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'd condiser both about equal?????

    Individual septic costs a lot to start out, but is cheaper for a sparsly populated area than running all that pipe. With enough land for the leach field, proper maintenence, works fine.

    Sewer system works well if you have enough people online to make it ecconomically doable. As well, on property too small to handle a leach field & a well & not contaminate anything, it's the only way to handle wastewater. With proper maintenence & design, works fine.

    Le Suer MN, during the floods of the '90s, had their raw waste line wash out & burst into the MN river. Spilled 100,000 gal of raw sewage a day, they figured that would last for 3 months, but it was deemed no problem! (Ended up able to fix it in 6 weeks.) I don't consider a municiple sewer to be any _better_ for the environment than many individual septics...... One big centralized setup rarely is 'better' than small units scattered about. Either will have issues from time to time.

    --->Paul
     
  13. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting comments, all. I guess I didn't even consider composting or sawdust toilets because of the local regulations issue.

    I'm still building my imaginary homestead in my head. I have a very comfy traditional home now with septic. But I like to imagine, if/when I have the time and resources, what my perfect homestead would be like. The funny thing is that it changes dramatically - i.e. sometimes no electric, sometimes off-grid, sometimes powerline. So I guess it depends on my mood, or something.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Beaux
     
  14. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    BOTH ARE CRAPPY!

    SURFACE DISPOSAL IS THE ONLY REASONABLE STANDARD Area to crowded for that? LOL yep the area is overpopulated!
     
  15. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    A big problem in areas where composting toilets are not allowed.
     
  16. celticfalcon

    celticfalcon tom

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    i have a septic tank and hate it. however i have a family of 8. so pump it twice a year.we are surounded by a corn feild tho and in the middle of nowwhere,so we deal with it
     
  17. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Composting of some sort would be the best. A septic that is pumped is like having a holding tank for the sewage system because that's where we hope it's going when it's pumped. Both septic and sewer are a tremendous waste of clean water which will be a problem in the future that we're in denial about just like the oil deal, but a little more important. A septic in a perfect environment would be the next best to composting, but there are very few ideal soils for septics. Most septics operate very marginally in poor soil and with a septic we are contaminating the ground water especially in denser populated areas.
     
  18. Micahn

    Micahn Well-Known Member

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    I have never heard of a place that had a sewer and still let people use a septic system.
    A couple of people above gave some of the main reasons why a sewer system is better then a septic system. However I do not remember seeing one of the biggest reasons.
    In areas that have both wells and septic systems it is not all that uncommon for a well to become contaminated with septic waters. In them areas the well and septics have top be so far apart to try and help stop that. However with homes being so close it still happens. When you drink septic water you can become very sick or die and that is a bad thing to happen. a lot of time the people will be sick a very long time before it is figured out just what happened.

    Where I am from in Indiana they have city water even a long way from the cities so that people will always have good water. my mother lives 15 miles from a 1 stop light town and has city water. But every one uses a septic system out there.
    They do not run city water and sewers to make money that is just silly to say that. They do it to help protect the public from getting sick plain and simple. Oh and I was a plumber as well as a teacher in a plumbing vocational school so I know all about plumbing related things :)
     
  19. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you guys raise some good points.

    So on my imaginary homestead, what's the ideal way to go? Say that I could get permits, etc. As an intellectual exercise, and for spiritual satisfaction, I would like the homestead to be as self-sufficient as possible. But I can't imagine that anywhere I'd like to live would let me be totally off public utilities!
     
  20. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    I think anything that the government has the smallest ability to regulate is always the best option