Septic tanks often serve as waste collection systems when there is not a sewer system. The contents that flow through the system are usually considered hazardous waste, so there tends to be regulations regarding these systems. These are often enacted by local government authorities but septic tank regulations may also be drafted at higher levels of government. Although the regulations tend to vary, they often pertain to issues such as tank size, location, and installation.
Since a septic tank is a hazardous waste storage receptacle, it is generally a violation to place it too close to a building. Usually, septic tank regulations outline a minimum specified distance. It is also important to make sure the system is suitable for the building it will serve. Septic tank regulations may dictate how big a tank has to be to serve a particular building or group of buildings. This is often done based on the number of people expected to contribute to the system.
Liquid waste, known as effluents, passes from the septic tank to a mechanism called a drainfield. The drainfield releases the liquid into a body of soil, where it is cleaned as it trickles down into the pool of groundwater, which supplies the well. Since the drainfield plays such an important role in the process, there may be septic tank regulations that specifically target this part of the system.
For example, a soil test is often required before installing a septic tank. The reason is because all types of soil may not be suitable to act as a drainfield. It may be illegal to place a septic tank in certain types of soil.
Some soil types are suitable but less effective than others. There also tend to be septic tank regulations that will dictate the building lot size in these cases. Building lots may have to be substantially increased to place the drainfield further away from the building it serves in efforts to protect the groundwater.
Before effluents make their dissent through the soil, they can be hazardous. They can pose serious threats to humans, animals, or plants exposed to them. It is, therefore, usually a violation to allow this material to flow into any waterways or open areas.
DIY, or do-it-yourself, is becoming popular in many households. Some people even construct their own dwellings. Installing a septic system, however, may be one task a person is not lawfully able to do himself. In many locations, septic tank regulations require that only certain professionals are allowed to install these systems. The requirement for professional installation becomes even more likely if the system will be used by industrial facilities, trailer parks, or multiple houses.