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Guide to lagoon systems for septic wastewater treatment: design, use, maintenance, life, effectivenes. Lagoon septic systems: also known as "pond septic systems" for onsite wastewater treatment are less often found in use for single family residential wastewater treatment.
A residential lagoon system may use a conventional septic tank, but effluent from the tank flows to a storage pond or lagoon for further treatment. The illustration at page top is from "Utah Small Animal Waste Lagoons and Ponds" published by the Utah state government.
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Lagoon systems: also known as "pond systems" for onsite wastewater treatment are less often found in use for single family residential wastewater treatment.
A residential lagoon system may use a conventional septic tank, but effluent from the tank flows to a storage pond or lagoon for further treatment. (Some states such as Missouri may permit a lagoon without a septic tank.)
Lagoon systems require comparatively large land areas and are more likely to be found therefore in rural areas or where a common wastewater treatment system has been designed to serve multiple dwellings.
For example lagoons are used for effluent disposal on small farms and for animal waste treatment/disposal on small and large farms or livestock operations.
Aerobic Lagoon Wastewater Treatment System Design
The lagoon or pond holds septic effluent where treatment may be enhanced by using an aerobic design to a shallow pond of effluent (adding air to the water, perhaps by an air pump or a fountain system).
Anaerobic Lagoon or Pond Septic System Designs
Anaerobic lagoon or pond designs are deeper and work more like a conventional septic tank, processing waste into settled sludge and treated effluent, and not making use of oxygen-requiring microbes nor of sunlight to treat the effluent.
Effluent from a pond septic system, except for its portion which is removed by evaporation, is commonly permitted to flow through a wetlands for further treatment before discharge to the environment.
The site and construction requirements for a lagoon septic system will require additional clearance distances from wells, property lines, etc. Lagoons are constructed in high clay soils (or lined) so that effluent does not drain into the soil directly from the lagoon.
Septic Lagoon Size
North Dakota State University offers some basic design specifications for a lagoon system for treating wastewater: "The lagoon surface area should be sized at about 500 square feet per person. A lagoon serving a four-person household would then have a surface area of about 2,000 square feet. The lagoon should have a depth of 3 feet with a minimum freeboard of 2 feet.
Nebraska Title 124 Ch. 18.008 provides these septic lagoon sizing specifications
Note that assumptions such as evporation rate and precipitation rate vary widely seaonally and by geographic area while seepage rates or soil percolation rates vary widely by soil properties as well. Where septic lagoon wastewater treatment systems are permitted and regulated by code, most authorities also describe the soil percolation rate or seepage rate test procedure to be sued in evaluating the site for lagoon operation.
Septic Lagoon Shape
Shape the sides of the lagoon to a 3:1 slope. A 2,000 square foot lagoon with 3 feet working depth and 3:1 side slopes would have a 50-foot diameter at its working depth and a 62-foot diameter at the top of the dike.
The lagoon may also be square or rectangular. A 2,000 square foot lagoon would be 45 feet square at its working depth and 57 feet square at the top of the dike." --quoted from North Dakota State University - www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ageng/structu/ae892-3.htm#Lagoons.
The design specifications for a lagoon septic system will vary widely depending on its use and the effluent flow rate involved. However the basic concepts of lagoon system operation and protection will be consistent.
Septic Lagoon Construction Details
Nebraska Title 124 Ch. 18.012 further specifies:
Site clearance distances for septic lagoon systems
Setback distances from a lagoon septic to other site features are similar to setbacks from other septic system designs and are elaborated in detail by Schultheis (1997) from which we excerpt some examples. These distances are from the lagoon to the feature listed, not from the septic tank itself (for which there are different clearance distance specifications).
Lagoon Wastewater System Safety and Protection
For safety the edges of a lagoon should be fenced to protect children and animals. Protection may also be needed to keep burrowing animals such as groundhogs from digging holes which inadvertently drain the pond.
Safety barriers at Septic Lagoons
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Our description of the maintenance requirements for septic lagoon systems has been relocated to LAGOON SEPTIC MAINTENANCE
Lagoon Wastewater Treatment System Installation & Maintenance References & Guides
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