Humans have always had to deal with sewage disposal. We’ve come a long way from simply digging latrines with a shovel. Here are some brief definitions of the most common types of sewers and sewage systems that we have – or have had – in the United States.
Storm sewer – Perhaps best known as the home of Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles, storm sewers collect rainwater through storm drains and drainage gates on city streets. Storm runoff goes directly to a nearby body of water.
Combined sewer – This type has a dual purpose piping system: one pipe carries waste and storm water. In heavy rains, the pipe may overfill and consequently waste reaches the overflow dam and eventually a local body of water. In the United States, combined sewers are not constructed today due to their detriment to the environment, but existing systems are still in use here and in many places throughout the world.
To lessen the environmental impact, some cities have added tunnels or retention ponds to hold what would otherwise become runoff to the local body of water. Excess water is retained separately until it can be treated after the storms are over.
Effluent sewer – These are also known as public sewer system or municipal sewage system. This system is found in metropolitan areas, and some date back a couple hundred years. Pipes carry human waste and waste water to a treatment facility where water is filtered and solid matter is removed. The filtered water is processed at various levels to eradicate unsafe microorganisms. Once the water’s level of harmful bacteria is returned to natural levels, the water is allowed back into the local system.
Septic tank – Home sewage system for homes not connected to a municipal system are the infamous septic tanks marked by a green patch of grass. About 25% of homes in North America rely on septic tanks which are smaller versions of on-site treatment plants. Anaerobic bacteria inside the tank decompose the waste there. Preventive maintenance is key and regularly cleaning out a tank allows it to last for decades, avoiding painfully expensive costs later.
River-basin sewerage – Initiated by law to conserve water, this type of system employs a disposal treatment facility that excludes sewage water and collects rainwater for later distribution.
So there you have it. If you are building a house, renting an apartment or living anywhere, you’re most likely dealing with one or more of the sewage systems above. Knowing a bit about them all will help you make decisions, troubleshoot problems, and decide on improvements that are right for your living situations.
Of course, at Jimmy Lewis and Sons, we can help you understand all about sewers and plumbing. As your grading contractors, we’re committed to making sure you have all the information you need, and the very best quality and service possible.