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How a Septic System Works

Screenshot of the septic tank process.

Like most or all properties at Waikawa Beach we have a septic tank. Waste water disappears into it and that’s that (except for getting it regularly serviced, and triggering the pump manually if it gets stuck).

In sand: a bunch of black domes, and a white box with a red light on it.

Hmmm, a bunch of black domes, and a white box with a red light on it…

But what’s actually going on down there? The answer comes from How Your Septic System Works:

A typical septic system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield, or soil absorption field.

The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g., oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater. Soil-based systems discharge the liquid (known as effluent) from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, chambers, or other special units designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil.

The page linked above has further detailed explanation and then links to a very helpful animation that shows just how things work.

Given all the rain we’re having, and the high water table, is that likely to affect the septic tank at all? There’s one possible answer on the page:

If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it can flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in toilets and sinks.

Take a look at your septic tank, especially if you never think about it, and check it’s all OK. Make sure to get the tank serviced regularly too. We’re very happy with Scott Donohue, 06 3766523, 0273757331, scottysservices14@yahoo.co.nz.

This item was updated on Thursday 21 July 2022

I live at Waikawa Beach and love all the wildlife, fauna and flora.