Sewer or Septic System?
A report from Florida Onsite Wastewater Association Member
Dixie Septic Tank Inc. is happy to provide information
regarding a comparison of the above systems. When it comes
to wastewater, the general public has very little knowledge
about what happens to their liquid waste once it leaves
Generally speaking, there are two ways to dispose of it:
A “centralized sewer system” or an onsite wastewater
system, more commonly called the “Septic System.”
A municipality, county, or private utility company usually
manages a centralized sewer. Commonly called “city
sewer.” Once the wastewater leaves the property, it
drains via a network of gravity pipes, force mains, lift
stations to reach a sewer plant. Many times the sewer travels
miles before reaching its destination.
It is estimated that the majority of all sewer fees collected
are used to maintain this long underground network. Don’t
believe this! It is estimated that only 75% to 90% of all
sewage from sewers reach the plant. The remainder is lost
through cracks, fittings and often penetrates our ground
or surface water. It is called exfiltration. According to
EPA, the average cost to rehabilitate a force main is $
590.00 per foot for a 36” diameter pipe, and $ 295.00
a foot for a 24” diameter pipe (2007 prices). This
cost does not include the initial installation that can
reach thousands of dollars per residence.
Once the sewage reaches the treatment plant, the wastewater
is treated at different quality levels depending upon the
type of plant, regulations and disposal options. Sometimes,
the treated water is redistributed to irrigate public properties,
parks, golf courses and agriculture land. It is called reclaimed
water. Sometimes it is shipped into canals, rivers and oceans,
evaporations ponds, and deep well injection.
Another way wastewater can be treated is with an onsite
wastewater treatment, also called a septic system. A typical
septic system has wastewater and solids draining from the
building to a septic tank located on the property. The septic
tank holds the wastewater long enough for the solids to
settle at the bottom of the tank forming sludge. Oil, and
grease float to the surface also called the scum layer.
The tank also allows decomposition of the solids materials.
The wastewater without the scum and sludge exit the septic
tank to be discharged into a drainfield for further treatment
by the soil. It is the macro-organisms in the soil that
provide the final treatment by removing the harmful bacteria,
viruses, and nutrients. We at Dixie use the rock system;
this allows the rock to filter the wastewater one more time
before entering the soil. Eventually, once the wastewater
is treated, it will partially recharge the ground water.
The cost of a standard septic system can vary depending
on the soil type, size of house or type of commercial property.
When we consider the cost for twenty years of central sewer
fees for a family of four could be the equivalent to five
years of college tuition. It is easy to see the great saving
that septic systems can offer versus a central system (city
The drainfield with a rock system will last an average
of 20 years or more assuming it is properly maintained,
and even much longer for the concrete septic tank itself.
A septic system has long been perceived as a temporary option
with a bad reputation. The lack of information disseminated
to the public regarding how an onsite system works and the
importance of maintaining them properly may be the primary
factors for this unfavorable view.
The septic system has come a long way in 20 years. From
a standard septic system, like a cesspool to a performance
based system. The wastewater can be treated at different
levels and with today’s technology, match if necessary
a centralized sewer plant system purification. In fact the
EPA concluded in its 1997 report to congress that “adequately
managed decentralized wastewater systems are a cost effective
and long term option for meeting public health and water
With this in mind Dixie Septic Tank Inc. with its exclusive
and patented “Equal Distribution™ system” we are happy to share with
you information regarding our systems, and how they will
stand up for years to come. Can our competition say this?