What is an Alternative Septic System and
What do I Need to Know?
Situation - You have just purchased your dream homesite. It sits on a rocky hilltop with spectacular views, or maybe in a meadow near a meandering stream, and you have the perfect home in mind. Or, you find land you can afford, and the only building site is the side of a fairly steep hill, or maybe a small lot in a rural community. You contact a builder, and they tell you there will be problem getting a standard septic system approved for the property. There are too many rocks so there is not enough soil, or there is groundwater just a few feet down in the ground, or the slope is too steep to contain the leach field, or the lot is just too small to have a leach field and a replacement area. An alternative septic system may be your only solution. You will need a system designer to come up with a solution.
What you will get - Alternative septic systems take many forms. Your system designer will look at the available area and test the soils. From that information a system will be designed. It could be mound system to get above ground water or rock, which could require pumping. Or the site may require advanced treatment of the effluent to clean it enough to allow shallow disposal via drip or a pressurized drainfield. Using advanced treatment can produce irrigation grade effluent water that is odorless and clean which can be used for drip irrigation.
What does it mean to you - With a properly designed and installed system you should not see any difference than with a standard system, other than initial cost and some increase in maintenance. All septic systems require some maintenance. Standard systems will require pumping every few years. Alternative septic systems will require routine maintenance more often, usually once or twice per year, depending on the system. Qualified service providers are available to do the routine maintenance needed, usually at a cost less than municipal sewer system maintenance fees.