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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC CARE INSTRUCTIONS
SEPTIC D-BOX INSPECTION
SEPTIC DRAINFIELD FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SEPTIC DYE TEST PROCEDURE
SEPTIC FAILURE SIGNS
SEPTIC INSPECTION & TEST GUIDE
SEPTIC LIFE EXPECTANCY
SEPTIC SUPPLIES & PARTS
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE LEVELS in SEPTIC TANKS
SEWAGE NITROGEN CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This document discusses the single pass and recirculating septic media filter systems. Media filter septic systems use a conventional septic tank followed by any of several methods to further filter and treat septic effluent before it is discharged to the soil, soil surface, or waterway.
Citation of this article by reference to this website and brief quotation for the sole purpose of review are permitted. Use of this information at other websites, in books or pamphlets for sale is reserved to the author. Technical review by industry experts has been performed and is ongoing - reviewers welcomed and are listed at References.
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A typical recirculating media filter system, if constructed using sand, will be constructed in a watertight excavation and filled in layers, from the bottom up, 12" of gravel, 24" of coarse sand coarse (0.05-2.0 mm), topped with another 12" of gravel. The bottom of the recirculating media sand and gravel filter bed slopes (perhaps 1" in 8 ft) to drain to the return from the media filter to the pumping station. 4" PVC pipe returns effluent by gravity to the pumping station.
Wastewater is applied to a system of this design usually at 4-5 gallons per square foot of area of the media filter system's footprint. So a family of four, using 70 gpd of wastewater, (figure 300 gpd total, a commonly-used number which I am betting is low) would need only 75 sq. ft. for the filter bed if you believe these calculations. Naturally the actual system will be built with more capacity to handle aging, variations in efficacy, and variations in loading rate.
A recirculating sand media filter of this design can remove 30% to 70% of the nitrogen in the incoming effluent, and 10 to 30% of the phosphorus in the incoming effluent. BOD may be reduced from 175 mg/L (leaving the septic tank) to 20; fecal coliform may be reduced from 1 million or much higher MPN/100mL leaving the septic tank to perhaps 5000 to 100,000 MPN/100mL.
A recirculating sand bed media filter system produces highly treated effluent and has good removal of nitrogen. In part because of the larger sand used in a recirculating system, fecal coliform is not reduced as effectively as a single pass sand media filter or a peat media filter.
The life expectancy of a recirculating media filter system of this type and the frequency with which the sand needs to be raked or replaced, is not an easy statistic to find. I'll plug that data in here when I can dig it out from the experts.
Clearly a septic media filter system like this needs regular maintenance and more frequent attention than a conventional septic tank and drainfield. Figure on a regular maintenance contract with perhaps quarterly inspections of the return media flow (slowing indicates clogging), returning effluent quality, and proper operation of the pump and controls.
The University of Minnesota Extension Service estimates an annual operating cost including inspection, maintenance, and electricity of $200.-$500./year. This figure does not appear to include, however, the cost of periodic replacement of the media.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books