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SA owned & operated since 1989
08 8162 5544
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An Overview of Septic Tanks – What They Are and How They Work

The sewer infrastructure in the Adelaide metropolitan area is quite comprehensive. Given that it’s one of the biggest cities in the state of South Australia, this is expected. But as you move away from the metropolitan area into the adjoining districts, you’ll find that the sewer infrastructure in these districts is quite limited. Some townships have Community Wastewater Management Systems (CWMSs) in place. Similarly, other properties rely on on-site wastewater systems for dealing with liquid waste. 

With every passing year, human and animal habitation in the region continues to increase. Sewage and effluent often contain an assortment of disease-inducing microorganisms and parasites. Direct or indirect contact with this waste matter could result in the outbreak of various diseases among the local populace. This is why the safe disposal of sewage and effluent is critical for promoting (and protecting) the health and well-being of the people in the area. 

How are Sewage Systems Categorised in Australia?

All sewage systems come under the classification of on-site systems or effluent (or wastewater) systems. In an on-site system, the property owners use a septic tank and leach drains for treating the sewage. This tank converts most of the sewage into effluent and disposes of it in an area close to the building. 
In contrast, an effluent system disposes of the effluent from a community at a central place called a sewage lagoon or an effluent pond. In these systems, the treatment of the liquid waste could take place:
  • In the sewage lagoon or the effluent pond
  • In septic tanks located near each building or,
  • In large septic tanks or macerator systems placed just before the sewage lagoons
It is worth noting that on-site disposal systems will not be useful:
  • In areas having a high water table
  • In areas situated in close proximity to drinking water supplies
  • In areas that flood frequently and,
  • In situations where the volume of wastewater stored in the septic tank requiring disposal is large

What Kinds of Wastewater Systems Do People in South Australia Rely On?

The Department of Health & Aging provides approval for proprietary wastewater systems used in South Australia. As such, most people in the state use one of the following wastewater systems.
  • The Septic Tank and Trench System: In this system, the bacteria present in the tank break down the waste into simpler substances. Thereafter, the liquid wastewater will flow from the tank into the sub-surface trend, before soaking into the soil. However, the sludge and scum in the tank tend to accumulate over time. As a result, the property owners will need to hire a septic tank service regularly. These companies will pump the tank out. This prevents the sludge from entering the trenches and resulting in issues such as clogging. Ideally, property owners would need to hire septic tank pumping companies to clean out their tanks once every four years or so at the very least.
  • Community Wastewater Management Services (CWMS): In this system, the septic tanks will discharge the wastewater into the council drainage systems via various connection points. Thus, each property typically has its own on-site tank connected to the system. Despite this, property owners will require regular septic tank cleaning every three or four years. The effluent collected by the system will undergo further treatment. Thereafter, it will be useful for irrigation purposes.
  • Aerobic Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS): In some situations, the conventional sub-surface disposal methods could be ineffective. In this scenario, people use AWTSs for the primary treatment, aeration, clarification, settling, disinfection and storage of the wastewater. Thereafter, the property owners discharge the resulting effluent to a dedicated surface or sub-surface irrigation disposal area.

How a Septic Tank System Functions

Merely having a septic tank is not enough. The tank will be useful for dealing with the effluent generated by the property. But, you will need to carry out septic tank cleaning regularly. Doing so will keep your tank functioning at optimal levels. The wastewater from the property ends up passing through the septic tank. In the tank, the heavier solids tend to sink to the bottom of the tank, where they undergo bacterial digestion. 
This bacterial action does not only reduce the quantity of the solid waste. It changes the composition of this waste into sludge too. Over time, the sludge will continue to accumulate at the bottom of the tank. This is why property owners often need to hire professionals for activities such as septic tank pumping. 
Similarly, the lighter materials (e.g. grease and oil) float to the surface of the tank, where they form a crust over the liquid. The remaining liquid (or effluent) will flow from the tanks into the drainage receptacles. Here, it will soak into the surrounding soil, undergoing additional treatment via natural processes. 

Are You Looking for a Professional and Reliable Septic Tank Service Company?

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for handling all your waste and recycling requirements, don’t look beyond Signal Waste & Recycling. Since 1989, we’ve grown from a one-man operation into a professional organisation. Today, we offer a diverse range of products and services that meet your requirements perfectly. In addition, we have a team of professionals operating a modern fleet of vehicles to provide prompt service. Moreover, our services are very affordable too.
We service private, commercial, industrial, local, state and federal government sectors throughout the Adelaide metropolitan area. In addition, we collaborate with Zero Waste and the EPA. This enables us to monitor our performance consistently. We’re a leading name in the waste management sector. So, we know that constant improvement will enable us to deliver value in everything we do. To get the best service at the best rates, call us at 08 8162 5544 today.