If you have been on municipal sewer systems all your life a septic system can be very foreign topic. I have had clients exclaim “it goes into the ground?” When you explain what happens to human waste. I usually can’t help myself put immediately state, yep, it goes into the ground and on the other side of the cottage you pull your drinking water from the same ground! People can’t believe this all until you take a few minutes to explain how it all works. First you have to know that since municipal services are not available everywhere in the province there has to be individual systems to deal with human waste. These systems are septic systems, composing toilets, holding tanks and just a hole in the ground with a building overtop called outhouses. We can discuss the other systems at another time. Today lets talk septic systems. Septic systems are fairly simple. The system is a series of pipes caring the waste to a tank called a septic tank. The tank can be concrete or plastic. The tank is where the magic happens! It is a biological process that reduces the solids to a combination of sludge and liquids called effluent. The effluent flows from the tank to the drainfields from distribution pipes. The soil around the distribution pipes are layers of sand and gravel that helps filter the effluent into clean water If all that goes down the drain was human waste, these systems would work great forever. But users can easily alter the biological process by introducing things that stop or slow down the process, like chlorine, grease, excessive amount of water, soap, large amount of toilet paper. Trees can be unfriendly as well to a septic system as well. Roots can find their way into the distribution pipes and clog them. Effluent does not flow through a pipe that is filled with roots very well! Every municipality has guidelines on minimum sizes of systems, setbacks, clearances and absorption area. Be sure to know these guidelines.