All Westminster Glen homeowners have septic systems on their property. Septic systems are a necessary feature because we are not connected to a central sewage system. The large size of our lots makes their use possible.
Septic systems need to be properly used and maintained to prevent problems and expensive repairs.
There are two general types of systems in the neighborhood: conventional (anaerobic) systems with low-pressure disposal trenches (drain fields), and aerobic systems, which can utilize either low-pressure disposal trenches or spray irrigation systems.
Conventional systems rely on anaerobic bacteria, gravity separation, and the soil to treat the sewage. These are very simple systems with usually a dual chamber tank, a pump tank and a drain field. Aerobic systems are much more complex, with multiple tanks and utilizing oxygen injection and chlorination for treatment. as well as a drain field or spray irrigation system.
If you have an aerobic system, you may be required by Travis County to have a maintenance contract with a septic service company to ensure its proper operation. This is not required for anaerobic systems.
With either system, there are some common-sense procedures to keep them operating properly:
1. In the bathroom, don’t flush anything but human waste and toilet paper, and don’t run water unnecessarily. No facial tissues, paper towels, personal hygiene products, etc.
2. In the kitchen, don’t put anything down the disposal or drain that you could not eat, including bones, shells, rinds, seeds, coffee grounds, etc. Also, no grease.
3. Use household cleaners sparingly, and don’t put medicines, paints or solvents into the system.
There are two components of sewage disposal: the solids and the liquids. The liquids are dispersed by the system through the drain field or spray irrigation. The solids have to be removed from the tanks with a pump truck. The frequency of pumping depends on the tank size and the number of people in the household, but the recommendations are 3 to 5 years. In some cases longer periods are possible.
The EPA document “A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems” has a lot of very useful information.
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Banner photo by Rick Capozza