Tutorial - Cesspools

What is a cesspool?

A cesspool is an older form of wastewater disposal in which the septic tank and drain field are combined in a single underground chamber. In many regions these are no longer considered an acceptable form of on-site wastewater disposal.

In a typical cesspool configuration, the building sewer flows into a single tank with perforated sides.  The concept is to have the solids and grease captured in the tank with the liquid escaping through the sides and percolating into the surrounding soils.

Cesspools do not provide the same level of treatment as a standard septic system.  These systems often extend into the groundwater. Pollutants and pathogens can more easily enter the groundwater and travel towards wells, streams, lakes, and wetlands.   Cesspools also have a greater tendency to plug the soil.  This can result in more frequent back-ups and pumping to resolve the backups.  In many states, current regulations require that cesspools be upgraded to conventional septic systems.  

Figure 6 - Cesspool

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