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Environmentally friendly alternative to a Septic System?

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    What is the best environmentally friendly alternative to the standard septic system and leach drains? Its for a large house with three bathrooms and composting toilet is not an option.

    any suggestions or comments would be great!


    in a word nature-loo, simple by design and operation versatile as well.



    G’day studiowest.. welcome to ALS

    It could depend on where you are located, and what your council’s rulings are.

    On site waste water treatment will involve a soil assessment to determine what you can and can’t have.

    How big is your property?

    There are reed beds, Biolytix, worm farms .. many varied alternatives.

    Do a google search…

    and good luck.


    What part of a septic/leach drain system do you find environmentally unfriendly?

    Disclaimer: The following is my own personal opinion based on anecdotal evidence only, I am not an expert on wastewater management and may well be completely wrong.

    An efficently working septic that does not have any toilet cleaning chemicals added will have a very active bacterial bioload digesting most of you solid wastes in to liquids which are dispersed to the soil by the leach drain. If you plant an orchard around the leach zone the trees will absorb the water and nutrients from deep in the soil and will thrive.

    A chemical free septic will rarely need to be pumped out as the bacteria can liquify most of the waste and the black water can be reused by the fruit trees with out the need for expensive irrigation systems. The modern alternative is the aerobic treatment units but these are expensive to buy and the ongoing servicing and electricity usage make them expensive to run and in IMHO are more environmentally damaging than a septic/leach drain depending on your site.

    The only problem environmentally that I can think of with a septic/leach drain is is the leached waste could possibly contaminate a natural water way or water source.

    Hopefully the information in the links below will allow you to make an informed decision

    Hope this helps


    I’m a great fan of the Ozi-kleen as all its components are guaranteed for life and I have had a pump replaced with no cost to us. I have one at each of my houses.


    Biolytix has gone bust taking many peoples 50% deposit with it. The plumber I had lined up to install it also does Biocycle but I haven’t done any research on them.


    I totally agree with Simo. If you dont use any harsh household chemicals and what you flush down the lav, pour down the sink and let run out of the shower is all fairly natural then I strongly believe a sepo is probably the best natural option. If you can then run the post sepo water through a reed bed followed by deep rooted evergreen trees then all should be fine.

    Nature has a great ability to deal with natural waste so manufacturing & running expensive treatment plants can create more pollution than a sepo “digesting” good bog from a clean bum on a good diet.

    Of course reducing the amount of “waste” that goes into the sepo is also helpful. I find it absurd that so much water from the kitchen, laundry & bathroom goes through the sepo when really inexpensive & easy to build grey water systems are available that can naturally “treat” the water for use on the garden & lawn.

    If you have sufficient space and an existing house & sepo my suggestion is that you look at what you are putting into the sepo, how that can be reduced & made as natural as possible as well as channeling the post sepo water through reed beds & deep rooted evergreen trees.


    What are your specific environmental concerns re: septic with evapo-transpiration area?

    The primary treated effluent is kept subsoil in a functioning system and their are no electricity costs.

    You can’t use the area for trees or livestock only lawn and this will need mowing a lot! The costs of excavation can be high and a new area will need to be excavated every 30 years or so to prevent failure and environmental contamination.

    Worm farms are similar but have a better quality of effluent and may need a sump pump to distribute effluent to the disposal area.

    I opted for an aerated system as my heavy clay soils are not suitable for subsoil application also I wanted to put my recycled water to use in the garden. Can’t use it on edibles unfortunately but the native bottle brushes love it and are creating a beautiful screen for privacy and windbreak.I opted for UV disinfection as I didn’t want to use chlorine. Electricity usage is a concern but with solar panels and green power I am minimising impacts on the environment.


    Here is some government information published about reed bed systems … its very informative included design drawings, minimum requirements etc. basically in councils who adopt this policy you can replace the second septic tank and leach drains with an approved reed bed system. ( you still need the first septic tank )

    The documents show how to make an approved reed bed system.

    Here is where I found the requirements for South Australia:

    In most states there are standards, ask your local council if they have a policy and handbook, documents etc. and if they don’t have anything, I would suggest printing off the above south australian requirements and ask your council if they will adopt them, as they are based on Australian standards.

    Here is another good link, again it is for South Australia but based on some Australian Standards:

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