Ever since the 1800s there has been a mains system for providing water and sewage disposal. A large part of the UK is covered by this mains network. However, there are still places, largely in rural areas, where a property has private drainage. What happens if a property is not connected to the mains system is that it will have its own septic tank system installed. There are rules and regulations relating to the construction of this type of system and any waste collected from it has to be disposed of in the correct way.
How a Septic Tank Works
Septic tanks are made up of two chamber systems below ground. Waste produced in your home flows or is pumped into the first chamber. There it undergoes anaerobic digestion. Any solids settle to the bottom of the chamber and are liquefied. The clear water at the top is drawn off into another tank where it undergoes aerobic digestion. The solids that remain in the first tank have to be periodically removed. This has to be done by a licensed contractor such as Oates Environmental.
Disposal of Septic Tank Sludge
Septic tank sludge removed from a property has to be disposed of in the correct way. Across the UK there are a variety of package treatment plants where the sludge can be collected and treated. Most of them will provide a place where the sewage is introduced to microorganisms that break down the organic matter contained in the sewage. Once the sewage has been treated in this way the water can be discharged to land or water. Much of the treated sludge is recycled to agricultural land for farmers to use as fertiliser. However, there are also companies that use it to create energy in various ways.
The Mains Waste Water Cycle
If your home or business is services by the mains water system it will follow the waste water cycle. This ensures that any water used is made safe so that it can be discharged safely back into the river system.
Waste water is first taken away via a system of sewer pipes that flow from your property to a sewage treatment works. As the sewage works the waste water goes through several cleaning processes. The first stage is the screening process that removes the larger objects and items that should never have been put down the drain. The primary treatment then separates human waste from the water. The secondary treatment takes place in large tanks and the good bacteria breaks down the not so friendly ones. A final treatment then allows the clean water to be removed and the good bacteria sinks to the bottom.
When the waste water has been sufficiently cleaned it can be returned to local rivers and streams. This water is constantly checked to ensure it meets certain standards. These standards are regulated by the Environment Agency.