In conventional septic systems, settling and partial treatment via anaerobic digestion occurs in the septic tank. One of the byproducts of solids separation in the septic tank is a semi-liquid material known as septage, which must be periodically pumped out. Septage includes the liquid portion within the tank, as well as the sludge that settles at the bottom of the tank and the scum that floats to the surface of the liquid layer. A number of factors can influence septage characteristics, as well as the sludge and scum accumulation rates within the tank. This paper presents the results of a 2007 field sampling study conducted in Wardsville (Ontario, Canada). The field study examined 29 individual residential two-chamber septic tanks in a community serviced by a decentralized wastewater treatment system in operation for approximately 7 years without septage removal. The field investigation provided a comprehensive data set that allowed for statistical analysis of the data to assess the more critical factors influencing solids accumulation rates within each of the clarifier chambers. With this data, a number of predictive models were developed using water usage data for each residence as an explanatory variable.
Keywords: primary clarifier, septic tanks, sewage, sludge, solids accumulation, wastewater