Septic systems are used where sewer is unavailable. The type and feasibility of installing a septic system depends on local regulations and the type of soil and drainage in the part of the lot the builder wishes to install the septic system. The County Of San Diego Department of Environmental Health Land and Water Quality Division has an excellent Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systemsavailable, and this should be consulted by anyone looking for more information on acceptable systems.
Here are some other good references for septic system information.
Standard septic system
A typical standard septic system consists of a septic tank and a leach or drainage field. The septic tank is connected to the house's plumbing, and an effluent distribution pipe carries waste from the septic tank to the leach field. Some states now require a two compartment septic tank to increase efficiency. A typical leach field consists of a network of perforated pipes in gravel-filled trenches. You can find out about how big a leach field in California should be here.
Typically, septic systems use gravity to distribute waste to the leach field. In some alternative systems (see below), mechanical devices may be used to pump the waste uphill.
Alternative septic systems
Sometimes there isn't enough space to build a leach field, or the available leach field area isn't suitable, perhaps for dranage or topographic reasons. In such cases it may be possible to build an alternative septic system, although local authorities have rules and regulations about what kinds of system they will accept, so do check early in the process.
Vertical seepage pits
Vertical seepage pits are tall vertical structures that are sometimes used for lots where the area is limited but there is thick soil and subsoil. A vertical seepage pit is in effect a deep hole with a porous-walled inner chamber and a filling of gravel between the chamber and the surrounding soil. Septic tank effluent enters the inner chamber and is temporarily stored there until it gradually seeps out and infiltrates into the surrounding sidewall soil.
Horizontal seepage pits
According to San Diego's Department of Environmental Division, "With proper design, the horizontal seepage pit, preceded by a septic tank, provides a method for effluent disposal in situations where soil conditions are excellent and disposal area is limited".
Mounds are alternative septic systems sometimes used where the soils are slow or fast permeating and there may be shallow coverage over bedrock. If the soil also has a high seasonable water table, mounds may also be suitable.
The mound system includes a septic tank, a second tank called a dosing chamber and the mound itself. From the dosing chamber the waste is distributed in doses to the mound.
This website has been written and developed by Rob Ransom, PhD. Rob has extensive experience working with buyers and sellers of vacant land in San Diego County, CA. Although Rob currently has a California real estate license he is retired from selling real estate.
If you have comments or suggestions regarding this web site, email Rob at the address below.
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