Septic Tank Systems

What is a Septic Tank?

Septic tank systems are individual wastewater treatment systems that collect, treat and dispose of wastewater. They are reliable, cost effective and efficient. Septic tank systems are used where municipal sewers are not available or are impractical.

Your septic tank system consists of four components: the septic tank; the effluent filter; the distribution box or Flow Divider (optional); and the effluent disposal field or drain field.

Your septic tank retains wastewater to separate solids from liquids while some bacterial digestion occurs. The effluent filter installed in your septic tank helps to retain the partially digested solid materials in the tank. Keeping the solid material away from your drain field is crucial to the proper operation of your system.

The distribution box or Flow Divider splits the wastewater evenly and sends it on to the drain field. Your drain field is the last step in treating your waste. Wastewater enters level trenches that contain gravel and pipes. Wastewater moves through these trenches and into the surrounding soil. The soil cleans the wastewater so that it can be recycled to the groundwater below.

Where is Your Septic Tank?

In order to maintain your system, the tank needs to be accessible for pumping and the drain field should be protected. Locating your system is not always an easy task. If you do not already have one, contact your county health department for a copy of your septic tank system permit, which will indicate the approximate location of the system and the size of the tank. The completed permit (also called The Approval for Use) will have a diagram of the actual system installation and include other information about your system. You can also sketch your septic system layout using your Homeowner’s Guide and Record Folder that is provided by county health department.

For information on maintaining your septic tank system, visit Septic Tank Maintenance. Also see: Can I Live on This Lot?

Page last updated: March 5, 2018