What is the Purpose of Septic Tank Systems?

The purpose of septic tank systems is to be an efficient and self-sufficient wastewater treatment system. In other words, septic tanks take care of the water waste from your shower, toilet, sink drains, washing machine, and other sources of wastewater in your home.

"The grass is always greener over the septic tank" quote

You normally see septic tanks used in rural areas because they are more cost-efficient than a centralized sewer system. The distance between homes in rural areas would make a sewer system really expensive. On the other hand, septic systems are cheaper to install, cheaper to maintain, and better for the environment.

Instead of having your waste water transported to a sewage treatment plant, your septic tank system cleans your wastewater right under your feet!

How Your Septic Tank Serves Its Purpose

You’re probably wondering how your septic tank treats your home’s waste water. Here is the entire process in 3 simple steps:

  1. All of your home’s wastewater travels into the septic tank.
  2. Your septic tank system separates the soids and sludges from the water. These solids and sludges build up in your septic tank over time, which is why you need to have your septic tank pumped.
  3. The clarified wastewater, known as effluent, passes through your tank and into the drain field for disposal.

That’s it! If you’d like a visual explanation, this video below illustrates the process perfectly. There’s no sound in this video, just a heads up.


This video was developed by Judith Torzillo for Healthabitat, to help explain the process of how a septic tanks works, what the by products are good for and the level of maintenance it needs to villages in Nepal receiving and working on The Village Sanitation Project.

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