City Sewerage or a Septic System? - An age old question answered.
Traditional thinking points towards city sewerage as the clear cut winner. However, in this case “traditional” thinking is not the same as factual reasoning. It is often that a homeowner’s bias towards one system is influenced by old myths and downright inaccurate information.
One major instance being the perpetuated idea that sewers are the cheaper, more convenient option because regular maintenance is unnecessary. Septic systems are comparatively seen as the more costly (and risky) option because all maintenance is performed at the discretion of the homeowner.
And while this is all well and true when looked at plainly, this may not be the case when measured over time. And as a (prospective) homeowner - you should be looking at the differences between each system and how they will hold up not only long term, but also under pressure.
The real question is not which is more effective - neither - but rather which is more convenient and cost effective for you. There are a multitude of factors to take into consideration when deciding what system is best for each individual homeowner.
Here is a simple break down that explains the differences between both systems. Use it to compare and contrast what you are looking for in a system, and decide which best suits your needs.
Where, geographically, can the system be installed?
Septic System: Because septic systems are individual, private systems - they can be installed virtually anywhere the soil is suitable. However, city sewerage may be mandatory if the home is located in town, or close enough that lines have been run to the home.
City Sewerage: City sewerage require piping and lines to run all waste to the local treatment center. It may not be feasible nor possible to run city sewer in rural areas because of the distance it needs to cross and consequent cost required to run these lines.
Where does the waste end up?
Septic System: In a holding tank, where upon it is broken down and released into the environment.
City Sewerage: A treatment facility that purifies the waste and then releases it into the city water supply.
How is the waste broken down?
Septic System: Through natural biological means - the septic tank’s ecosystem breaks down the waste as it flows through the system. It is then released into your surrounding soil - to become part of your land’s groundwater.
City Sewerage: Through chemical means - after running through the lines to the treatment facility, contaminants are removed, and chemicals are introduced to further purify the waste water.
What are the environmental benefits?
Septic System: When maintained properly, septic systems have no adverse effects on the environment. This is due to the fact that septic systems only introduce the purified waste water into the environment in small increments over a steady rate.
City Sewerage: Comparatively, city sewerage is maintained through less environmentally friendly means - requiring both energy and chemicals to properly purify the waste. Concern has also been raised over the possible effects of introducing the bacteria enriched waste water to natural water supplies.
What are the initial costs of the system, when buying a new home?
Septic System: None - if necessary all costs needed to install a new system is usually included in the price of the home.
City Sewerage: It depends on location - a hook up fee may sometimes be required, and a monthly fee is charged by your local municipality.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of the system?
Septic System: The homeowner.
City Sewerage: Your local municipality.
What steps need to be taken if the system fails?
Septic System: The homeowner. Because septic systems are private treatment systems, all problems are a result of the homeowner’s improper maintenance. However, septic systems rarely run into problems if maintained properly, and are known to last decades.
City Sewerage: Both your local municipality and the homeowner. The township is responsible for all maintenance, however homeowners who use the system are charged to pay for any work needed if problems arise - whether it be replacement of any specific components, or even the installation of a completely new system.