Septic waste water systems are probably the simplest waste systems you can get. Pipes from all the wet areas of the house – the toilet, shower, sinks, washing machine – all feed into a large tank, the septic tank, that has been set into the ground somewhere near the house.
Once in the tank the waste naturally separates itself into three layers: heavier particles, which fall to the bottom of the tank and become sludge; oils and fats which rise to the top and become a floating scum and; relatively clear liquid filling up the middle, known as the grey water or effluent. These components together are known as septage.
The septic system also includes what is known as a drain farm, or leach field. This is a pipe system which is cunningly attached to the side of the tank at a level where the effluent, rather than the scum or sludge, will be able to escape the tank. The drain farm is situated below ground and the pipes themselves are perforated so the effluent is distributed around your yard and released into the soil where microbes, and the grass, complete the water cycle.
Check out our other posts for more information on septic tanks and septic systems.