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Septic Tanks in Durban

Septic tanks - We have a sceptic government that needs flushing

. . . but I digress.

On separate occasions, I discussed septic tanks cesspits and soakaways with two sceptic Durban Metro officials.  One said he had lived in a house for 25 years, and didn't even know where his septic tank was. Roley, the second official, said that we all had had septic tanks and soak-aways for 100 years, so what was the issue?  And then he asked how am connected with sewage, I mentioned I was involved with the Waste Water Watch. He clammed up like clam.

Septic tanks are not the problem.

It's the soak-aways (see below).  I note that in Australia, even homes on waterborne (municipal) sewerage, needs septic tanks in place. It is a brilliant idea, as the sewer works will not get any of the abuse. And no sand - which is a killer for all municipal sewage systems. If you abuse, it's for your account. So, the people know what not to do, and if not, it costs money. Government is also happy, as it costs them less.

Plastic septic tanks

Plastic Septic tanks - On-site failures

Many years ago, one of our clients, Gavin - who lived in the un-sewered area of Westville, asked us to look at his borehole, as his pump wasn't working. We lifted the pump, which was about 110 meters deep, and found the stainless steel casing had been eaten through, and needed replacement. We suggested the installation was a write-off, since the water from the area's septic tanks, had created an underground chemical cocktail that was dangerous, even lethal. Gavin agreed - he did not want that same water any place near where his grand children played.

The real villain here, is the french drain (aka soak away/ leachfield etc). A hundred years ago, one dwelling had no sight of the next, and therefore wastewater had time to naturally biodegrade.  The same property now has 125 houses on it, each producing more than 1500 litres of wastewater every day. These french drain systems are often out of the way (and often on the neighbour's boundary). The guy at the lowest point, actually gets paid to live there, since he helplessly watches from his kitchen, what others are flushing.

I meant to ask Roley to look outside and see what else had changed in 100 years.


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