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growing over low-pressure-dose septic system

 
Alexa Carlson
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Hello! Long time listener, first time caller.

We're getting a new septic system, as the house we bought in July has a failing one. Forgive my ignorance on aerobic septic systems...the system described to me by the engineer is called low-pressure-dose, and it evidently uses irrigation line 6" deep to transport "waste" water through the soil. The engineer is curt and rather unpleasant, and says that i can "only grow sod" over the irrigation lines. I think this is probably just habit or lack of vision on his part, but I'm wondering if you wise people can tell me if there is some hidden downfall to growing a variety of ornamental and edible plants there? He said "roots will clog the system." Roots don't clog irrigation lines in a freshwater irrigation system, so why would they do it with the lines from a septic system? The system is sized for 475 gallons (house, guest house, and RV pad)--WHY would I waste 475 gallons of water a day? That seems ludicrous. I live in central Texas, where summertime water is incredibly scarce, and I am envisioning a lovely garden over the drain field. Am I naive or otherwise misguided?

Thanks.
AC
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I would grow compost crops over the septic field and grow my vegetables elsewhere, if possible. But this would mostly be to avoid disturbing the lines, which are shallow.  I think the only likely source of contamination would be root crops if you choose to grow vegetables over the lines. 
 
Travis Johnson
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Your engineer, while he may have poor residential manners, is giving you very accurate and sound information. It is best to heed it.

If you have ever watched Gabe Brown talk about bacteria and how it causes amazing root balls to thrive within the soil, that is exactly what your engineer is talking about too. Unlike just plain irrigation water, septic systems, humanure, is laden with bacteria that will cause massive root balls to grow. Yes this will cause the plants to flourish, but also cause those tiny holes in your septic leach field pipes to clog with tiny roots. Sod has shallow roots that prevent that from happening. Around here a new leach field is around $7000 which is one really expensive garden! Best to relocate it.

If you are adamant about using humanure, and people on here are better qualified than me on describing the right way on doing this, might be to pump it out of your septic tank and compost that. Even then you would have to be careful on what you use for cleaners, toilet paper, and even antibacteria hand soap.

But if it seems like I play exactly by the rules, I assure you I do not.

Myself I use humanure, I just pump it out of my septic tank and spread it on some distant fields of mine (so as to keep smell away from peoples homes). Also, against all code enforcement rules where it says never build over a septic leach field...well I did, and its been covered over for 8 years now with no ill effects. I was told the leach field needed water going down through it to get the sewage to drain, but that is not the case at all. Being built on crushed rock, it leaches out just fine. If something ever does go wrong with the leach field however, I got plenty of acres here where I can move it. That is a very important fact and why I am okay with building on top of it. For others in a confined lot, that might not be the case.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9585
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Travis Johnson wrote:Sod has shallow roots that prevent that from happening.


Many of our native Texas grasses have very deep roots.  Did the engineer specify what species of grass must be grown over Alexa's lines?  I don't know what species of grass is "sod."

 
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