Approved designs for septic holding tanks, waterless
Approved (or not-approved) septic designs using chemical toilets, electrical and gas toilets
Approved or other regulations for composting septic systems
Designs & regulations for Incinerator Toilets [Gas, Electric Toilets], chemical toilets, recirculating toilets
Definition of Engineered Septic Systems and provisions for a waiver allowing their installation
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Septic system alternatives: holding tanks, waterless toilets. This article discusses
example procedures for evaluating, installing, approving other septic system types besides those already
discussed. These include (by example) septic holding tanks, waterless
septic systems, chemical toilets, electrical and gas toilets. The composting toilet shown at page top (Nature's Head) is discussed in more detail at ALTERNATIVE & WATERLESS TOILETS.
Regulations for the Design of Other Septic System Alternatives: septic holding tanks, waterless
septic systems, chemical toilets, electrical and gas toilets
[ NOTE: this section of NYS regulations discusses "alternatives" to onsite wastewater
disposal systems. None of the systems discussed here dispose of septic effluent on the
primary site, and some avoid effluent production completely, other than human excreta.
New York regulations (effective in 1990) do not discuss other septic and onsite wastewater handling methods
such as aerobic septic systems.
The use of holding tanks shall not be permitted for
new home construction except where occupancy of a home is permitted
while the sewage treatment system is under construction. Tank size
shall be based upon five days design flow or 1,000 gallons, whichever is
greater and meet the same construction as a septic tank except that the
holding tank shall not have an outlet. Holding tanks are not acceptable
for long term use on year-round residences.
(b) Non-Waterborne Septic Systems
(1) Waterless Toilets - General
In certain areas of the State where running water is not
available or is too scarce to economically support flush toilets, or
where there is a need or desire to conserve water, the installation of
non-waterborne sewage systems may be considered however, the treatment
of wastewater from sinks, showers, and other facilities must be provided
when non-flush toilets are installed. Household wastewater without
toilet wastes is known as greywater.
(2) Composters [Composting Toilets].
These units shall be installed in accordance with the
manufacturers instructions. The units shall have a label indicating
compliance with the requirements of National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)
Standard 41 or equivalent. Only units with a warranty of five years or
more shall be installed.
(3) Chemical and Recirculating Toilets
(i) Chemical toilets provide a toilet seat located directly above a
vault containing a chemical to disinfect and remove odors from the
wastewater. Recirculating toilets use chemicals as the toilet flush
fluid. The wastes are separated from the fluid, wastes discharged to an
internal holding tank, and the fluid reused.
(ii) The liquids used in these types of toilets do not completely
disinfect the wastes; therefore, waste products from these units shall
not be discharged to surface waters or to the ground surface.
(iii) The reduced volume wastewater from recirculating toilets may be
discharged to a larger holding tank but not to a subsurface absorption
(4) Incinerator Toilets [Gas, Electric Toilets]
These units accept human waste into a chamber
where the wastes are burned. They have a very limited capacity and
require a source of electricity or gas. The ash remains must be
periodically removed. They must be installed according to the
(5) Greywater Systems
Greywater [grey water, gray water] systems shall be designed upon a flow
of 75 gpd/bedroom and meet all the criteria previously discussed for
treatment of household wastewater.
[DF NOTE: Grey water is water that does not include sewage, including
water from sinks, showers, and laundry facilities.]
(C) Engineered Septic Systems
(1) A treatment system of a type not discussed in this document may be
allowed only through the issuance of a Specific Waiver by the health
unit having jurisdiction as provided for in Part 75, of this Title.
(2) Special Conditions.
(i) The system shall be designed by a design professional.
(ii) An environmental assessment determines that the development of the
site with this system is consistent with the overall development of the
area and will cause no adverse environmental impacts. The
homeowner/purchaser shall be informed of the expected reliability or
problems with the design.
(iii) The design professional supervises the installation of the system
and certifies that the system was built in accordance with the approved
plan and/or submits as-built plans of the system.
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US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual [online copy, free] Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm Onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems,
Richard J Otis, published by the US EPA. Although it's more than 20 years old, this book remains a useful reference for septic system designers.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water Program Operations; Office of Research and Development, Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory; (1980)
"International Private Sewage Disposal Code," 1995, BOCA-708-799-2300, ICBO-310-699-0541, SBCCI 205-591-1853, available from those code associations.
"Manual of Policy, Procedures, and Guidelines for Onsite Sewage Systems," Ontario Reg. 374/81, Part VII of the Environmental
Protection Act (Canada), ISBN 0-7743-7303-2, Ministry of the Environment,135 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5 Canada $24. CDN.
Manual of Septic Tank Practice, US Public Health Service's 1959.
Onsite Wastewater Disposal, R. J. Perkins;
Quoting from Amazon: This practical book, co-published with the National Environmental Health Association,
describes the step-by-step procedures needed to avoid common pitfalls in septic system technology.
Valuable in matching the septic system to the site-specific conditions, this useful book will help you install a reliable system in
both suitable and difficult environments. Septic tank installers, planners, state and local regulators, civil and sanitary engineers,
consulting engineers, architects, homeowners, academics, and land developers will find this publication valuable.
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, Bennette D. Burks, Mary Margaret Minnis, Hogarth House 1994 - one of the best septic system books around, suffering a bit from small fonts and a weak index. (DF volunteers to serve as indexer if Burks/Minnis re-publish this very useful volume.)While it contains some material more technical than needed by homeowners, Burks/Minnis book on onsite wastewater treatment systems a very useful reference
for both property owners and septic system designers. We refer to it often.
While Minnis says the best place to buy this book is at Amazon (our link at left), you can also see this book at Minnis' website at http://web page .pace.edu/MMinnisbook
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf
Septic System Owner's Manual, Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, Julie Jones, Shelter Publications, 2000 $14.95 U.S. - easy to understand, well illustrated, one of the best practical references around on septic design basics including some advanced systems; a little short on safety and maintenance. Both new and used (low priced copies are available, and we think the authors are working on an updated edition--DF.
Quoting from one of several Amazon reviews: The basics of septic systems, from underground systems and failures to what the owner can do to promote and maintain a healthy system, is revealed in an excellent guide essential for any who reside on a septic system. Rural residents receive a primer on not only the basics; but how to conduct period inspections and what to do when things go wrong. History also figures into the fine coverage.
Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, Bombeck, Erma: $ 5.99; FAWCETT; MM;
This septic system classic whose title helps avoid intimidating readers new to septic systems, is available new or used at very low prices.
It's more entertainment than a serious "how to" book on septic systems design, maintenance, or repair. Not recommended -- DF.
US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm
Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook, R. Dodge Woodson. This book is in the upper price range, but is worth the cost for serious septic installers and designers.
Quoting Amazon: Each year, thousands upon thousands of Americans install water wells and septic systems on their properties. But with a maze of codes governing their use along with a host of design requirements that ensure their functionality where can someone turn for comprehensive, one-stop guidance? Enter the Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook from McGraw-Hill.
Written in language any property owner can understand yet detailed enough for professionals and technical students this easy-to-use volume delivers the latest techniques and code requirements for designing, building, rehabilitating, and maintaining private water wells and septic systems. Bolstered by a wealth of informative charts, tables, and illustrations, this book delivers:
* Current construction, maintenance, and repair methods
* New International Private Sewage Disposal Code
* Up-to-date standards from the American Water Works Association
Wells and Septic Systems, Alth, Max and Charlet, Rev. by S. Blackwell Duncan, $ 18.95; Tab Books 1992. We have found this text very useful for conventional well and septic systems design and maintenance --DF.
Quoting an Amazon description:Here's all the information you need to build a well or septic system yourself - and save a lot of time, money, and frustration. S. Blackwell Duncan has thoroughly revised and updated this second edition of Wells and Septic Systems to conform to current codes and requirements. He also has expanded this national bestseller to include new material on well and septic installation, water storage and distribution, water treatment, ecological considerations, and septic systems for problem building sites.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.