The term “septic tank” is a misnomer which suggests your gray water and sewage goes into a holding tank. It does go into a holding tank, but there’s much more involved. A better term is “septic system” to describe the engineering and design which allows you to have running water inside rather than pulling water from a nearby creek and using an outhouse to attend to your needs.

Why a Holding Tank Won’t Work

A true holding tank, a sealed container to keep waste out of the groundwater supply, can and does work as a temporary solution. A port-a-potty is a holding tank and has been used successfully at concerts, on construction sites, or anywhere a temporary solution for waste disposal is needed. A holding tank is not a responsible way to manage dirty water over an extended period of time. The tank requires too much maintenance and is a potential disaster in the event of a failure.

Using Soil as a Filter

What does work toward disposing of wastewater is a temporary holding tank with drain lines to allow the waste to slowly filter itself through the soil. The tank partially fills, then drains at a rate the local environment can manage. Compostable waste enriches the soil while liquid waste is filtered of germs and toxins as it progresses through the soil and returns, clean, to the water table. The basic septic design has been used since the emergence of mankind; with today’s population figures a more engineered system is required to maintain a delicate balance in the ecosystem.

Multiple Stage Design

Multiple stage designs for septic systems are useful for commercial building with more waste to dispose of than single family homes, or alternatively can be used for homes built in an area which has a fragile ecosystem. The multiple stage design uses the same concept as a typical septic system but spreads it out over more area to avoid saturation. These systems are custom designed to the specific situation but can be built horizontally or vertically in regards to the ground level to allow waste into the ground at a slower rate than usual without backing up the initial holding tank.

Septic systems require a well planned and engineered design. Each one is a little different, so it’s important to find an experienced and licensed septic contractor to install what will be most efficient for your situation.