What’s the Difference Between a Septic Tank and a Wastewater Treatment System?
While you will find that some properties have a septic tank, others will have a wastewater treatment system. Both systems have basically the same function, which is to breakdown and dispose of waste effectively, efficiently and safely from your property.
Having said this, there are some notable differences between them, and these differences are primarily based around how they break down and dispose of the waste. To help you decide which system would be best for you, let’s take a look at some of the dissimilarities between a septic tank and a wastewater treatment system.
The breakdown process used by each system represents the biggest difference between them. With a septic tank, wastewater enters the tank and the solids sink to the bottom and anything that floats will rise to the top to form a scum layer. In between these two layers is a fairly clear body of water that contains bacteria and chemicals. Most of the waste is broken down through a natural and biological process.
With a wastewater treatment system, the wastewater is broken down in a mechanical way using a set of rotating discs that are designed to activate aerobic bacterial breakdown of the waste. This process produces a non-damaging effluent that can be generally released without the need for further treatment.
Using self-forming bacteria, the septic tank breaks down the solids that are disposed of. However, this method produces an effluent that is only about 70% clean meaning that it will require further treatment before it can be released into the environment.
With a wastewater system, the aerobic breakdown of the solids is much more complex, and so the resulting effluent is 95% clean allowing it to be discharged directly into the environment to soak away.
As the septic tank works on the basis of a natural process and utilises the forces of gravity to carry out its function, there is no need for any servicing of the system.
With a wastewater treatment system, the many mechanical components do require regular servicing to keep them in good condition and working effectively.
As mentioned, a septic tank allows solids to fall to the bottom of the tank while anything that floats will automatically rise to the top. Therefore, after prolonged use, the layer of solids at the bottom will increase to such an extent that the septic tank will have to be emptied. How often the septic tank will require emptying will depend on its level of usage, but in general, a septic tank should be emptied at least once a year.
A wastewater treatment system requires emptying less often as the aerobic breakdown of solids is much faster and therefore blockages are less of an issue.
The matter of disposal and treatment of wastewater from your property is an important consideration. In order to get the most out of your system, it is vital that you know the differences between the two types of systems before making a decision on which option to install.