Tanks and weeping beds are sized to meet standard flow rates for the number of bedrooms in the home. Soil tests are often required of the weeping bed area to ensure adequate percolation rates.
A degree of anaerobic secondary treatment happens within the tank, but the majority of treatment occurs in the biolayer of the soil in the weeping bed. Very little breakdown of solids happens in the tank, and the eventual accumulation requires removal. These solids are often taken to municipal wastewater treatment facilities (see “Municipal wastewater treatment”) or to landfill.
Tertiary treatment Many alternative wastewater treatment systems including constructed wetland, peat beds, aerobic tanks, soil air injection, and bio-filters among others are extensions of the basic septic system, using the same type of tank and weeping bed setup, but introduce some form of tertiary treatment between the tank and the bed, helping to reduce harmful bacteria counts in order to deposit cleaner water into the soil.
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Self-contained toilet These units provide a seat over an integral composting tray in a single, self-contained structure. Humanure deposits are received in the tray and provided with the appropriate conditions for composting action within the unit. They all use some form of mechanical ventilation to reduce odor. Excess urine may require a separate handling system, or heat may be used to speed evaporation. Due to limited storage capacity, these toilets most often use some form of mechanical action and/ or acceleration for the composting process, and are only suitable for low numbers of users or for intermittent use.
The compost tray is removed from the unit when processing is complete or when the tray is full. It is often necessary to have an outdoor compost heap to receive material from these units, as it can prove difficult to complete the composting process within the unit.
Some models of self-contained toilet use chemicals or high heat to “cook” the humanure into a benign state. The material from these toilets is not useful compost, as the biological activity that creates rich, useful soil has been killed off.
Remote chamber toilet A toilet (dry chute, low-water, or vacuum flush) directs huma-nure to a large, enclosed chamber. The chamber is of sufficient capacity and design to contain and process a high volume of compost.