Disposal of Wastewater on Small Lifestyle Blocks

Why is it a big deal?

As the lot sizes are smaller than in the past your neighbours are closer than ever, therefore what you do directly impacts on your neighbours, e.g. on traditionally larger farms generally your nearest neighbour would not even be within sight.

This meant you could happily ride around on your tractor naked, sing loudly out of key, Morris Dance at midnight, make lots of foul smells and even let your sewerage run into the nearest blackberry bush or over that bank over there. These normal farming practices would not cause grief or anguish to neighbours because they simply didn’t know.

No so on the lifestyle block! Most lifestylers are people who have had enough of the urban existence and are looking for a bit of peace and tranquillity and an opportunity to experience the alternative lifestyle. Naked neighbours on four wheelers riding up and down the boundary checking their firewood trees may be acceptable; Morris Dancing could catch on because it looks like fun, but making foul smells … no, no, this is most definitely not allowed.

As the liquid waste from a septic tank system does smell, can be a health hazard and will create a problem if incorrectly designed, waste disposal is an area that must be carefully considered when contemplating the big move to the country.

How does a septic tank work?

A septic tank digests the solid waste from toilets, baths, kitchen and laundry. The liquid waste passes through the septic tank to be disposed of, or further treated prior to being discharged to effluent disposal fields.

How much waste are we talking about?

People who have always lived the rural lifestyle will generally use between 60-100 litres each per day, e.g. a three bedroom home with 6 people could use 600 litres/day x 365 days/year = 219,000 litres.

City people used to all the mod cons, and who have never had to think where their water comes from or where there waste goes to, will use between 180-220 litres each per day. This means the same household could create 438,000 litres of liquid waste from their septic tank per year.

Where does it go?

Not down a convenient pipe the local council has provided that’s for sure!

It must be disposed of on your site, without causing a smell, without running into the neighbours pool or ending up near yours or somebody else’s well. The effluent management system you choose above all must have long-term viability, not be a health risk and should be designed to meet your particular site requirement.

What systems are available?

  • Conventional septic tank
  • Conventional septic tank with filter
  • Small ones/Large ones
  • Two chamber systems
  • Three & four chamber systems
  • Home treatment plants (plenty in this category)
  • Sand filters
  • Low pressure-dosing systems
  • Systems using chlorine
  • Non-chlorinated options
  • Composting toilets
  • Electro loo’s
  • Grey water systems
  • Black water systems
  • The list goes on!!

Are you confused??

You have a right to be – but make it a point not to be. Do your homework. Having the correct effluent management system for your lot is the most overlooked aspect when considering the lifestyle option. So move it up the priority list.

This blog post was originally posted to lifestyleblock.co.nz.

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