Producers may fail to understand how important on-site water treatment systems are to their bottom lines.

They, like the public, often fail to appreciate the role that septic tanks play in domestic wastewater treatment.

The homeowner rarely gives any thought to that concrete box buried in the backyard. As long as the toilets flush, and there is no sewage bubbling up in the yard, the homeowner tends to forget that he owns and operates a small wastewater treatment system.

Unfortunately, few people understand the true value of their septic tanks and the requirements to operate them properly. Poorly renovated domestic wastewater is a threat to both pubic and environmental health. And this could be a huge problem, as more than 25% of U.S. households depend on septic systems.

Given current economic trends, the potential market for onsite treatment is very good. The cost of a septic tank is very inexpensive compared to the value that it provides in terms of wastewater treatment.

Properly managed, an onsite system removes solids from the effluent, effectively cutting in half the strength of the wastewater.

Producers play an important part in this equation by providing high-quality tanks for onsite systems. So let's take a look at how these systems work.

Water and the waste stream

For structures not attached to a sewer system, the onsite wastewater treatment system is usually comprised of a septic tank and soil absorption area. Wastewater treatment systems remove wastes from water and return the renovated water to the hydrologic cycle.

More than 98% of the waste stream that enters a septic tank is water, which transports waste material from the home. By definition, water that comes in contact with waste becomes wastewater.

The waste materials that are not water (fecal solids, fats, oils, dirt, lint, toilet paper) must be removed from the water while in the septic tank in order to protect the soil absorption system. If allowed to enter the soil absorption area, these solids would decrease the system's life by clogging the trench bottom. Once clogged, wastewater will either percolate up to the soil surface or back up into the house.