Constructed Wetlands, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico, from el Charco del Ingenio botanical garden, by the author, August 2006

Using a Private Wetlands Effluent Disposal System as a Component of Alternative Septic Systems for Difficult Sites

Private wetlands septic systems: this document discusses use of private wetlands for residential onsite wastewater treatment. Wetlands used in this manner are natural systems for polishing or recycling septic effluent include public and private wetlands, greenhouses, and other systems.

The photograph at above left shows a constructed wetlands in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico. This wetlands forms a portions of a wetlands ecosystem which treats septic effluent from a local community and provides fresh water to botanical gardens.

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Wetland Septic Systems for Private Onsite Wastewater Disposal

Wetland Septic Systems or "natural" septic systems use a constructed wetlands area (or a greenhouse) to treat septic effluent. These systems are more common in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Florida where both municipal wetland septic designs and private homeowner wetland septic system designs are in use.

"Wetlands" may include both visible water such as open ponds, and underground water located in constructed beds which are covered with soil. Typically these systems are used as a final "polishing" step to treat effluent which has been processed in an aerobic treatment unit (ATU) or effluent which has been processed by a media filtration unit.

Wetlands septic effluent disposal systems usually require a large area and are not easily adjusted to accommodate variations in the level of system usage, such as a sudden increase in the occupancy of the site. However these systems also use less electricity or other energy source than pumping, dosing, and similar effluent handlers.

A more sophisticated (and costly) alternative to an open wetlands for treatment of effluent is the use of a greenhouse system which encloses the wetland treatment facility and provides a more controlled environment.

A greenhouse septic effluent system discharges effluent into the atmosphere in the form of humidity, similar to evaporation systems. Jantrania (op.cit.) describes greenhouse systems which use UV light for final disinfection of effluent which is then recycled to flush toilets.

At Technical Reviewers & References below we provide a bibliography of references and information sources about the design, performance, & maintenance of wetland septic systems.

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