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Any experience with infiltration chambers for septic drainfield? (green septic subsoil infiltration)

 
Kimi Iszikala
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Has anyone used infiltration chambers in a planting area? As I understand it they are shallower than traditional drainfields so their water is more available to plantings, and they are less susceptable to blockage by roots.

I am talking about subsoil infltration chambers / green septic systems as described by Art Ludwig in Ch. 8 of Creating and Oasis with Greywater, and on pages 16,17 of his Builder's Greywater Guide. But I'd also like to hear how the infiltration chambers have worked for you if you are using them as part of a more conventional septic drainfield.

In his books, Art Ludwig describes the construction but not so much the use of the beds after installation.

Anyone have any experience with such a drainfield? What do you plant on it?  I see such conflicting info in conventional resources (like manufacturer or drainfield installer websites) on what you can or can't plant around these fields, and where the planting should occur.

I am at 7200' in northern New Mexico.  I am thinking  I'd like to plant something like a pollinator garden and maybe fruit trees. I would love to find a resource on how best to design plantings in this situation. I would also love to hear from folks who have implemented such a system, and how it's going for you!
 
Tony Hawkins
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My neighbor has them attached to his septic, he did it because of the reduced drain field size and the reduced need for digging. Wider trenches is a lot easier than deeper trenches. We have very fine sand so he put geotextile fabric on the sides to keep the soil migration from happening. But as far as growing, he kept it open. There's some small grasses on it just because of natural propagation but nothing bigger than that. His experience, anyway.

If you're still designing you should check out the onsite wastewater treatment method which generates nearly potable water on the tail end. Takes up a lot less space too (when you consider the drain field), and is less expensive if you DIY it. In my state (Nevada) you're required to have an annual water test performed but otherwise nothing else.  But with that you could have truly reclaimed water available.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqg4evnkL_g
 
John C Daley
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Would an alternative description for them be,' reed beds' ?
 
Kimi Iszikala
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Tony Hawkins wrote:My neighbor has them attached to his septic, he did it because of the reduced drain field size and the reduced need for digging. Wider trenches is a lot easier than deeper trenches. We have very fine sand so he put geotextile fabric on the sides to keep the soil migration from happening. But as far as growing, he kept it open. There's some small grasses on it just because of natural propagation but nothing bigger than that. His experience, anyway.

If you're still designing you should check out the onsite wastewater treatment method which generates nearly potable water on the tail end. Takes up a lot less space too (when you consider the drain field), and is less expensive if you DIY it. In my state (Nevada) you're required to have an annual water test performed but otherwise nothing else.  But with that you could have truly reclaimed water available.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqg4evnkL_g



Thanks, Tony!  I am hoping to use them with vermicompost septic
 
Kimi Iszikala
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John C Daley wrote:Would an alternative description for them be,' reed beds' ?



No, I'm talking about the manufactured plastic gravel-free infiltration chambers, like https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-06/documents/septic_tank_leaching_chamber.pdf

I live in high desert and won't be putting through enough water to support a reed bed. (NW new mexico, USA)

But it's hard to find info on what to plant over an infiltration drainfield. I did find one list of native plants from New Zealand, but that won't help me here. I see some recommendation to use locally native plantings, but avoid anything deep rooted, which is contradictoray in our area. Greywater Oasis suggests plants that do want to use more water rather than dryland plants, but doesn't give examples. I am thinking the infiltration chambers are less succeptible to root invasion causing problems than traditional septic drainfield tubing (in the tube and gravel setup), but I think plant lists aren't taking that into account. I see statements like choosing plants that won't "interfere with the septic infiltration and transpiration" but I think the point is to have plants that help with the transpiration...

I'd like to plant a pollinator garden but just want to make sure that the species I chose are compatible with the drainfield.
 
Kimi Iszikala
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Tony Hawkins wrote:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqg4evnkL_g



Hey again, Tony,

I watched the vid -- very intriguing! Do you have any references for the approval for this in Nevada? I am hoping to get the vermicompost septic approved for our house build, but it will be an uphill battle for sure. I think this system is bigger than we could do -- we'd need to be able to have it all protected from freezing, and the >1kW of electtricity per day would also be tough with our offgrid solar -- but it sure does look better than a conventional system!
 
John C Daley
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Look at this, its sweemsw exactly what you want;
Plant selection for sewage and stormwater systems
 
Kimi Iszikala
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John C Daley wrote:Look at this, its sweemsw exactly what you want;
Plant selection for sewage and stormwater systems



Wow, thank you for this! I will dig in.  Looks like a great reference.
 
Kimi Iszikala
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John C Daley wrote:Look at this, its sweemsw exactly what you want;
Plant selection for sewage and stormwater systems



After looking through, this looks more like something for a municipal treatment system in the tropics... I would love to find the equivalent geared toward a small home septic in the high desert in SW US...

I'll keep looking!
 
Kimi Iszikala
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John C Daley wrote:Look at this, its sweemsw exactly what you want;
Plant selection for sewage and stormwater systems



Hey John, I see you are from Australia and seem pretty plugged in to everything down there... I am looking for data on effluent quality to support a (US) permit application for a vermifiltration septic system.  I got the quote below off of a NaturalFlow website, a company in New Zealand manufacturing vermifiltration septic systems, and it refers to AS/NZS standards for water quality. My local office said that I can bring in info about this company's system in support of my (similar but different) proposed system, they would consider it in support of my application, but I would also need to bring in info on the AS/NZS standards to see if they are as strict as our local standards.

My question:  Do you have any idea where I can find out water quality standards in Australia or New Zealand for effluent from primary treatment (post septic tank) and secondary treatment (post drainfield)?

These are the local standards I am trying to match:
“domestic liquid waste” means wastewater that does not exceed 300 mg/l BOD, 300 mg/l TSS, 80 mg/l total nitrogen or 105 mg/l fats, oils and grease
“primary treatment” means a liquid waste treatment process that takes place in a treatment unit and allows those substances in wastewater that readily settle or float to be separated from the water being treated;
“primary treatment standards” means the primary treated wastewater does not exceed 200 mg/l BOD, 100 mg/l TSS, 60 mg/l total nitrogen or 60 mg/l fats, oils and grease
“secondary treatment” means a reduction of the 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) and total suspended solids (TSS) concentrations

I mean, I see that I can buy the standards for hundreds of dollars per book (and would probably have to buy several books to find what I'm looking for by trial and error), but isn't that kind of data available online anywhere?

Compliance
The NaturalFlow System complies with all the following standards, as set out in the NaturalFlow Compliance Requirements document.

The NZ Building Code
Section 1.5.2.1 of AS/NZS 1546.1:2008 and Section 1.5.2.1 of AS/NZS 1547:2000 state that tanks constructed to these Standards will meet the requirements of the code for Clauses B1 and B2, structure and durability
Clauses G13.3.4 relating to on-site treatment and disposal systems and G14.3.1 and 14.3.2 relating to the control of foul water as an industrial waste, are also covered in engineers Producer Statement – PS2 – Design Review

AS/NZS Standards
Compliance with the relevant sections of Section 9 of AS/NZS 1546.1:2008
Compliance with the relevant sections of Parts 2 and 4 of AS/NZS 1547:2000



I know it is a total long shot trying to get this through the permitting process, but I don't want to give up unless I have done everything in my power...
 
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