What is an on-site sewer facility? Well, it’s the nice way of saying septic tank. Septic comes from the Greek and it means “putrid”. Duh! In 1989 the State Legislature passed legislation regarding the installation of septic tanks. This legislation was basically set up by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, now known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The purpose of the legislation is to control the installation of septic systems. It came into existence as a means of protecting the environment. Over the decades many individuals would install - or not install at all - septic systems that were environmentally harmful and that could damage the health of animals, including us humans. Some counties have even adopted regulations that are more strict than the state law. The state law, for example, does not cover tracts of land greater than ten acres. Cherokee County strengthened the law by saying that the size of the land does not matter; the state law has to be obeyed. This law, by the way, is very complicated. Go to http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac%24ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=30&pt=1&ch=285&rl=Y for the details. They will blow your mind.
There are two basic kinds of residential septic systems: conventional and aerobic. Conventional systems are less costly and typically do not require any kind of electrical components. In those instances where the system is uphill from a dwelling, a pump may be required. Conventional systems are typically installed where there is enough land to install effluent distribution systems (field lines). Aerobic - meaning requiring the presence of air or free oxygen - systems are more common on small tracts of land, and the waste that goes into the system is broken down by being exposed to oxygen. After the waste has decomposed it basically gets sprayed out, onto the ground, as clean-looking water. This is why pumps are required. There are other factors that can affect the type of system, such as the kind of soil. I have a conventional system and, because the soil at my home is iron ore, the field lines are several hundred feet long because it takes longer for natural decomposition to take place. The field lines are about three feet deep, have tubes covered with gravel and geotextile to keep sand from seeping into the tubes. Field lines have to be level with the plane of the earth. If the lines go down a hill the ditch at the top of the hill will have to be deeper than the ditch at the bottom. If the line were allowed to slope, all the effluents would aggregate at the bottom of the field line and cause the system to fail. The number of tanks is dictated by the number of bedrooms. A three bedroom home requires two 500 gallon tanks feeding the field lines. A four bedroom home has to have two 500 gallon tanks and a 250-gallon tank. Similar guidelines would apply to an aerobic system.
I have given you a small overview. When you get ready to put in a system you will have to contact the county you live in to obtain contact information for the individual who oversees getting a system installed. Two permissions are required: one to be permitted to install the system and another to operate the system. Septic system installers must be licensed to install on-site sewer facilities. As a private individual, you may install one yourself, according to state guidelines, but you may not pay anyone who helps you with the installation. You should get more than one quote for the installation of a system. Some installers love for you to put in an aerobic system because they need to be checked out periodically and maintenance contracts may often be required. If you want to know a little more about caring for your septic system, go to this link: https://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-a-Septic-System or https://www.vdwws.com/2013/02/dos-and-donts-of-aerobic-system-maintenance/ .
Mike McEwen is a real estate broker with 28 years in the business.