Homeowners wishing to pursue sustainable wastewater strategies should familiarize themselves with local regulations and if proposing an alternative solution be prepared to absorb extra time and possibly extra cost in the planning and construction process.
What follows is an overview of available options when it comes to wastewater systems. All are feasible, but not all are allowed by building codes. They may be combined in different ways to meet specific needs, according to need, climate, personal preference, and local regulations.
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A building’s drain system empties into a publicly maintained sewer system, a network of subterranean pipes that flow (or may be pumped) to a centralized wastewater treatment facility. These facilities are typically located close to a natural water body as a natural low-elevation point and as a place to discharge treated water.
The operations and processes at wastewater treatment facilities vary depending on local practices, regulations, and environmental conditions, but follow a similar procedure:
Primary treatment Wastewater is collected in holding tanks or settling ponds so that “scum” (grease, oil, soaps) can rise to the surface and solids settle to the bottom. Scum is removed for separate treatment or landfill disposal. Solids (or “sludge”) are typically sent to a digester, where anaerobic activity helps to break down dangerous pathogens.