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Old 03-23-2007, 09:33 AM   #15
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...but the solids have to go somewhere. maybe it just takes "a long long" time for them to accumulate.

A bunch of years ago, I took a class on waste-water treatment. (long story...part of a civil engineering program...just doing some exploring). I could have gotten a license to work at a sewer plant. Just to qualify that I do have some basic knowledge about the workings.

septic systems are a little different, but some basic principles must still remain the same. the "primary" treatment is just a settling tank. Solids that are suspended in the water either float, or sink. they don't just "go away". Some solids are disolved in the water...these are removed in the secondary treatment...(the "leaching field" in a septic system.). But those undisolved solids, or "settleable solids", as they call them...thats stuff that won't ever disolve...its going to build up, eventually. again, maybe it just takes a long long time.

I've never had the tank pumped here at my house, either, and I should. just seems that the standard "every 2 years" schedule seems rather extreme, especially since everything seems to work just fine after 13. The first 10 or so years, we were hardly ever here...just the wife and me, both working all day, eating out alot, not running the dishwasher much, no disposal, etc, etc. the drainage is excellent, too. So its not a "typical" or even "average" situation. But still...
I guess when you consider that in every "flush" of wastewater, its still something like 99% water...and considering the amount of stuff that would come from the travel trailer parked in your yard, it would still take a very very long time to fill a 55 gallon drum.
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Old 03-23-2007, 09:56 AM   #16
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My understanding of a "two tank" septic system is that the first tank acts as a digester, reducing the solid human waste to liquid form, and the second tank is a soakaway. Any solids remaining at the bottom of the primary tank will be mainly grit. This grit may need to be removed if users have not been careful to minimize it. This differs from a city sewage system, in that the trailer black tank contents in the primary can digest undisturbed for several days, weeks or months until the next onslaught . Transference of solids from the primary to the secondary is restricted by the 90 degree bend in the outlet from the primary. My experience supports this theory.
Nick.
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Old 03-23-2007, 10:27 AM   #17
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kinda funny when you think that I know how to deal with "millions" of gallons of wastewater...but not "hundreds", or even "tens". LOL!

And that may be the key: in a large municipal system, there's no time to let it cook. maybe the stuff would (or "does") disolve, if you could let it sit for long enough. They do transfer these solids to "sludge digesters" in larger plants; but that doesn't make it disappear, either. it just gets broken down further. There's still lots of solid material that needs to be disposed of, either in a landfill or incinerator...some is turned into fertilizer. But it does have to go somewhere.
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Old 03-23-2007, 12:21 PM   #18
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I thought home septic systems had a large enough volume to solid capacity to allow enough time for the good bacteria to eat (digest) and expel (well, turn it into bacteria's liquid poop) before it was leached out into the drain lines as non-dangerous water that would be filtered by the soil.

I would imagine a municipal system with enough capacity to allow for that kind of natural process to occur would have to be twice the size of the municipality it served (forgive the exaggeration, but you know what I mean). I thought the sludge was a product of reducing the size of the system and rushing the process beyond what could be done by nature.
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Old 03-23-2007, 02:41 PM   #19
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well, "kind of".

basic sewer plant functionality: wastewater enters the plant and goes into a huge "primary" tank, where solids float/sink, and are pumped off. then the water (still full of "disolved solids") goes into a much larger secondary tank, where it sits for a longer period of time, and is pumped full of air, to encourage aerobic bacteria, which process the disolved solids, and transform them into "settleable" solids...(so, NOT liquid poop, but solid poop), which sink, and are pumped off. the remainder is nearly drinkable water...it passes through a chlorination system, and is then de-chlorinated before being returned to the river. (or ocean, or whatever).

now..the activity in a septic tank is ANerobic. (that's what "septic" means). these bacteria work in an low/no oxygen environment, and get their "O" by chemical means...extracting O atoms from other molecules, and giving off hydrogen sulfide, methane, and other stinky stuff. they work slower than the aerobes that breath atmospheric O2...so maybe they also can "liquify" the stuff, but it takes longer? I don't know.
but anyway, yes, time is definately "of the essence" when it comes to sewer treatment plants.
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:01 PM   #20
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[quote=Chuck]them into "settleable" solids...(so, NOT liquid poop, but solid poop), which sink, and are pumped off. the remainder is nearly drinkable water...it passes through a chlorination system, and is then de-chlorinated before being returned to the river. (or ocean, or whatever).


Hey Chuck if you ever get a chance to go to LA take a tour of their sewer plant. upon entering you are given a small cup of water to taste. an the end of the tour they remind you of the water that you drank, it was from the treatment plant. also on the space station the liquids are recycled.
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Old 03-24-2007, 04:05 PM   #21
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I have lived in a house for years but sold the last one last year and live in a lettle rental now. I may spend this summer in my '65 Caravel or something larger on my 4.5 acres in PA. I am building a house on the 4.5 acres but get this. Because it has such a slope the system designed for it will cost $16,000 just for the INGREDIENTS, not including machine time and dirt. Fortunately I have the machine, dirt and the time but to be blackmailed by the system makes me want to do what the bears do for at least a few years.
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Old 03-26-2007, 08:39 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoconoAir
but to be blackmailed by the system makes me want to do what the bears do for at least a few years.
This always reminds me of the movie "The Big Chill".
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