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Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plants: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

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If you're building a home outside the reach of local sewerage service, you must make arrangements for on-site residential or domestic treatment plants to treat your wastewater. The effluent thereof can be recycled for many purposes, e.g. plant irrigation and other plant applications. These systems are ideal for those building in rural areas and isolated holiday locations, among others. Below are frequently asked questions for those considering domestic water systems:

1. What if I'm buying and not building?

If you're buying already-constructed property outside the reach of local sewerage services, you should confirm that there's a functional water treatment system on-site. Your seller should arrange to have the system inspected by certified experts and present evidence that it works well. However, be prepared to upgrade the system if your needs exceed those provided for by the current plant.

2. How do I choose an appropriate system?

The right treatment plant should be selected with the help of an expert, based on factors such as the soil conditions, site drainage pattern, how much space you have and environmental considerations, such as "what will the water be used for after treatment." The treatment medium will determine where the plant can sit on your property as well.

3. How can I use water after treatment?

Water from your home is divided into two: grey water, which is wastewater as a result of washing clothes, laundry and food, bathing and house cleaning; and black water, which is water from flushing the toilet (sewage). Grey water requires less complex treatment to make it safe for other uses compared with black water. After the treatment process, you can direct treated water to a tank to be used as non-potable water, such as uses other than human consumption, e.g. irrigation, house cleaning and toilet flushing. This will reduce your fresh water consumption as well as maximize environmental efficiency.

4. What approvals do I need?

Before onsite treatment plants can be installed, you must have local government approval. In addition, they should have chief executive approval or its equivalent in your region, e.g. model approval/type specification. Septic systems are not classified as on-site treatment systems and don't need the latter. Your installation expert can help you file relevant legal paperwork for approval before starting installation.

5. What will I need to do for maintenance?

Like other systems, maintenance will keep your treatment plant optimally working to ensure that you get safe water at the end of the process. Equipment should be maintained annually, while daily inspections should be carried out to ensure the system is working properly. Because of the complexity of the system, your service technician should help you draft a maintenance schedule to ensure every equipment is serviced at the right time.

Review the schedule every week to find out what needs to be done, and whether you can do it yourself or you need knowledgeable technicians. Any breakdowns must be attended to immediately.