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Household Wastewater Systems

Mike Kizer OSU Extension Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering

Typical Waste Water System


Renovated Wastewater

Wastewater System Regulation

Regulatory agency in Oklahoma is: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) 707 N. Robinson, OKC (Tel: 405-702-6100) 405-702 DEQ field offices in many counties
Check local listing under: Oklahoma State of

Regulations are outlined in Title 252 of Oklahoma Administrative Code, Ch. 641 DEQ wastewater system website:

Minimum Lot Size for Wastewater Disposal Systems

Disposal System Type
Aerobic w/ sprinklers ET/Absorption Trench Subsurface (fast perc.) Subsurface (slow perc.) Lagoon

Water Supply Source Private Well Public Supply

acre 1 acre acre 1 acre 2 acres acre 1 acre acre 1 acre 2 acres

Wastewater System Separation Distances

(distance in feet)
Tanks (septic, pump, aeration) Perforated Pipe or Chamber Solid Pipe Lagoon Sprinkler Head Spray Head

Private Well Public Well Buildings Other Structure Water Line Property Line Stream/Lake Drains

50 / 100 300 5 NA 5 5 15 15

50 / 100 300 5 10 15 5 15 15

50 / 100 50 NA NA 10 5 NA NA

50 / 100 300 50 NA 15 10 15 15

50 / 100 300 NA NA 15 5 15 NA

15 15 NA NA NA 5 15 15

Wastewater System Components

Water-tight sewer lines Water Septic tank Disposal system
Subsurface drain field
Absorption trenches Infiltration chambers

ET/Absorption trenches Aerobic system with sprinkler Total retention lagoons Pre-approved alternative disposal systems Pre-

Household Plumbing
Sewer and Vent System
Sewer lines in the house collect waste water for conveyance to the septic tank Roof vents and the traps under sinks, tubs, showers, toilets and wall/floor drains prevent sewer gas from entering the house.
Main Sewer Pipe

Screen vent pipe opening to prevent blockage by birds, squirrels, etc.

Septic Tank
All household wastewater systems will have a septic tank Microbial action digests solid wastes Liquids flow through tank to disposal area Tank size
1000 gallon liquid capacity (4-BR house or less) (4 Add 250 gallons per additional bedroom

Typical Septic Tank Installation

TwoTwo-Chamber Tank


House Foundation

Wastewater Piping Materials

Water Water-tight Sewer Conveyance Lines
Cast iron PVC (Sch. 40 is preferred weight) Transite (asbestos-cement) (asbestos Orangeburg (paper-tar product: old houses) (paper-

Drain Field Lines

Perforated PVC Polyethylene infiltration chambers Clay tile (old houses)

Effluent Disposal Area Options

Absorption field
Absorption trenches Infiltration chambers ET/Absorption trenches

Lagoons Aerobic systems Authorized alternative systems

Subsurface Absorption Field Approval

Percolation Test
3 test holes in drainage area perc at a rate of 60 min/inch of water or faster

Soil Profile Description

3 test holes without any of the following:
(1) impervious material (bedrock, clay pan) (2) water saturated soil (discoloration) (3) loamy coarse sand or coarser soil, or (4) sandy clay or finer soil

The size and type of waste water disposal system is very dependent on the soil at the building site. Even before a percolation test or soil profile evaluation you can get an idea of site suitability from the county soil survey.

CrossCross-Section of Subsurface Absorption Trench

8-ft minimum distance to center of next trench

Perforated Pipe

150 MAX.

Lateral lines following the slope contour

150 max. length

Infiltration Chambers
Polyethylene infiltration chamber has 100% open volume vs. 50% for gravelgravelfilled absorption trench Corrugated design gives strength to support ground traffic over its 2-ft width 2 Chamber cost per unit length is approximately equal to unit cost of perforated PVC pipe, plus gravel and installation

ET/Absorption Trench System

Used when soil percolation rate is too slow for ordinary subsurface absorption trenches Uses evapotranspiration (ET) of grasses plus soil absorption to dispose wastewater Plant a mix of cool and warm season grasses for year-round ET year-

CrossCross-Section of ET/Absorption Trench

Cool-Warm Season Grass Mixture

Perforated Pipe

Used when soil percolation rate is too slow for soil absorption systems Require 2 acre minimum lot size Fencing required around the lagoon Size based on house size, and rainfall and evaporation of geographic zone Must retain all wastewater (no overflow)

Typical Lagoon Installation

- 2.5 acre minimum lot size required - 4-ft high fence required - lagoon size based on house size and local rainfall

4 ft 3 1 7 ft 5 ft max. 1 ft min.

Concrete Pad

Location & Lagoon Size

The required size of total retention waste water lagoons (because of their annual hydraulic balance) makes them less desirable the farther east you build in Oklahoma.

Aerobic Systems
Used to treat septic tank effluent where subsurface disposal is not possible Bubbling air through effluent supports aerobic bacteria for further digestion Exposure to oxygen kills most pathogens Chlorination allows surface land application of wastewater through sprinklers

Onsite Aerobic Treatment System

Onsite aerobic treatment systems treat septic tank effluent further by aerobic digestion, chlorination to kill pathogens, and surface application through a spray head sprinkler system.

(Septic Tank)




Typical Aeration Chamber of Aerobic Treatment System

StackStack-Feed Contact Tablet Chlorinator

Chlorine Tablet Feed Tubes Effluent Outlet

Effluent Inlet

Ca(OCl)2 Tablets

Pump Chamber and Surface Application System

Access Hatch

Spray Heads

Pump Pump Control & Alarm Floats

Finding Waste Water System Components

Waste water components are normally downhill from the house (gravity flow) Septic tank can be no less than 5 feet, and is normally no more than 50 feet from house Two-way sanitary sewer clean-outs located: Twoclean Within 5 feet of the house Within 5 feet of every bend greater than 45 45 Every 100 feet of straight sewer line

Grass over septic tank may be brown in summer Grass over drain field will be greener in summer

Locating Waste Water System Components

CleanClean-outs on main sewer line

Locating Waste Water System Components

2 1/2-inch roof vent on branch line 4-inch roof vent on main sewer line

Sewer system roof vents

Locating Waste Water System Components

Largest roof vent on main sewer line

CleanClean-outs on main sewer line exiting house

Regular green stripes in a dry lawn are the lateral lines

Household Water Use

50gallons/person Typical Usage: 50-100 gallons/person-day
Clothes washer: 30-50 gallons/load 30 Dishwasher: 7-15 gallons/load Garbage Disposal: 4 - 6 gallons/day Shower/Bathtub: 25-60 gallons/use 25 Ordinary toilet: 1.6 - 5 gallons/flush Water softener: 50-100 gallons/regeneration 50-

Septic System Additives

Bacteria Yeast Enzymes Combination

Acids Bases Organic Solvents Flocculants

Biological Additives
Will not eliminate need for tank pumping 20% of sludge is inorganic (indigestible) Billions of bacteria live in septic tanks-tanks-a few million more have little effect If natural bacteria have been killed, added bacteria will die also Normal population is restored in 30-60 30hours even if 99.99% has been killed

Maximum Safe Levels of Cleaners

(Single dose in 1000-gallon septic tank) 1000 Bleach (5.25% Cl): Cleansers/Disinfectants: Drain Cleaners: 1.3 gallons 2.5 gallons 0.65 ounces

Chemical Additives
Strong Acids and Bases Disrupt normal tank biological activity Harm soil structure in drain field Organic Solvents Clean thin layers of sewer line build-up build Contaminate ground water

Annual Cost of Additives

Amherst, MA Retailers Study - 1989
(using manufacturers recommended rates)

Biological (11): Solvents (3): Acid/Base (8):

$19.75/yr $78.00/yr $13.48/yr

Annualized Pumping Cost

(USPHS Pumping Frequency Estimate)

$150 Pumping Cost for 1000-gal tank 1000Family Size 2 3 4 5 6 Pumping Freq. 20 yrs 12 yrs 8 yrs 6 yrs 4 yrs Annual Cost $ 7.50/yr $12.50/yr $18.75/yr $25.00/yr $37.50/yr

Septic System Additives

Biological additives are harmless but of little use Chemical additives can damage septic system and contaminate ground water Dont use if active ingredients are unspecified Annualized cost of additives is about the same as for tank pumping on recommended schedule These products make a lot of money for the people that sell them.

Waste Water System Failures

Common Causes
Hydraulic overloading (too much water) Solids migration to drain field
Failure to pump tank on schedule Baffle failure

Root intrusion into sewer lines Traffic damage to drain field Garbage disposal overuse

Reducing Hydraulic Loading

Equipment Adjustments
Low flow toilets (1.6 gpf and 0.6 gpf) Water-saving showerheads Water Front-loading washing machines Front-

Lifestyle Adjustments
Shower vs. bath Distribute laundry loads throughout week Distribute bathing morning & evening Full loads only for washer & dishwasher

Root Damage
Plant no trees or shrubs near sewer lines Copper sulfate to kill tree/shrub roots
Treatment is not toxic to plants Once intruding roots are killed, absorption ends Add cup of crystals to distribution box or to cleanout downstream from septic tank If added through toilet, 2 pounds of crystals are needed (not harmful to tank bacteria)

See OSU CR-6428 for more information CR-

Traffic Damage
No vehicle parking over drain field No vehicle traffic except lawn mowers No traffic at all if ground is saturated

Solids & Drain Fields

Solids must be retained in septic tank Baffles should be inspected when tank is inspected or pumped Use of additives that liquefy sludge and scum can lead drain field failure Septic tanks: like fuses in electrical wiring (failure in controlled location; cheap to fix)

Garbage Disposals
Add to hydraulic load (running water) Add to solids (more frequent pumping) Poorer digestion environment
(Carbon:Nitrogen ratio is more unfavorable)

Water Softeners & Septic Systems

Salt does not affect septic tank functioning Added hydraulic load (regeneration water)
Use water meter or sensor controlled regeneration rather than time clock alone

Added sodium can affect marginal drain fields (dispersal of clays slows perc rate)
Use potassium chloride (KCl) salt if a problem

Onsite Domestic Sewage Disposal Handbook

Worksheet #3

OK DEQ Ch. 641

OnOn-Site Wastewater System Resources

If you dont maintain your on-site wastewater system, it onwill demand your attention when it is most inconvenient.