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University of

Guyana
Faculty of Technology
Department of Civil with
Environmental
Engineering

Septic Tanks
Course: CIV 3202 Lecturer:
Mrs. S. Eastman
Date: 14th April, 2016
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................................................................................................... I

GROUP MEMBERS ................................................................................................................................................. 1

LIST OF FIGURES..................................................................................................................................................... 2

LIST OF TABLES ...................................................................................................................................................... 3

INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................................................... 4

1.0 SEPTIC SYSTEMS ........................................................................................................................................... 5

1.1 PRIMARY TREATMENT (SEPTIC TANKS) .....................................................................................................................5


1.1.1 What is a septic tank? ............................................................................................................................5
1.1.2 Processes Involved in the Treatment of Waste In the Septic Tank (Physical, Chemical & biological) ....5
1.1.3 Design Considerations............................................................................................................................7
1.1.4 Usage of the Septic Tank/Appropriateness ............................................................................................7
1.1.5 Health Aspects/Acceptance ...................................................................................................................8
1.1.6 Operation & Maintenance of Septic Tanks ............................................................................................8
1.1.7 Advantages & Disadvantages of Septic Tanks .......................................................................................9
1.2 SECONDARY TREATMENT & DISPOSAL SYSTEMS .........................................................................................................9
1.2.1 Soak Pits ...............................................................................................................................................10
1.2.2 Leach Fields ..........................................................................................................................................11
1.2.3 Solids Free Sewer .................................................................................................................................12

2.0 STANDARDS AVAILABLE IN GUYANA FOR THE DESIGN OF SEPTIC TANKS ................................................... 13

2.1 GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS OF THE STANDARD ........................................................................................................13


2.2 CALCULATIONS...................................................................................................................................................13
2.2.1 Septic Tank Capacity (Volume) ............................................................................................................13
2.2.2 Septic Tank Length ...............................................................................................................................17
2.2.3 Design Considerations..........................................................................................................................17
2.2.4 Construction .........................................................................................................................................18
2.3 SECONDARY TREATMENT & DISPOSAL SYSTEMS ........................................................................................................19
2.3.1 Filter Box ..............................................................................................................................................19
Methods of Effluent Disposal .............................................................................................................................20

3.0 SEPTIC TANK DESIGN .................................................................................................................................. 22

3.1 PRELIMINARY DATA FOR DESIGN ...........................................................................................................................22


3.2 CALCULATIONS FOR SEPTIC TANK DESIGN................................................................................................................22
3.2.1 Capacity of Septic Tank ........................................................................................................................22
3.2.2 Length of Septic Tank ...........................................................................................................................23
3.2.3 Two Chambers Septic Tank ..................................................................................................................24
3.2.4 Pipes & Fittings ....................................................................................................................................24
3.2.5 Tank Cover ........................................................................................................................................... 24
3.2.6 Construction .........................................................................................................................................25
3.3 SECONDARY TREATMENT & DISPOSAL SYSTEMS ....................................................................................................... 25
3.3.1 Filter Box ..............................................................................................................................................25

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4.0 ADEQUACY CHECK OF EXISTING SEPTIC TANK............................................................................................. 27

4.1 CHECK FOR LENGTH TO WIDTH RATIO......................................................................................................................27


4.2 CAPACITY OF THE PRESENT TANK............................................................................................................................28

SKETCH OF A TWO COMPARTMENT SEPTIC TANK..29

CONCLUSION ....................................................................................................................................................... 30

BIBLIOGRAPHY ..................................................................................................................................................... 31

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Group Members
Name USI
Afazal Baksh 1012318
Neil Beeraspat 1012008
Jitendra Bridgemohan 1011884
Chandradeo Ghansham 1011529
Mahendra Mentore 1016205
Stephano Seecharan 1012360

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List of Figures
FIGURE 1SHOWING A SECTIONAL VIEW OF A SEPTIC TANK ............................................................................................................7
FIGURE 2 SHOWING MOTORIZED EMPTYING AND TRANSPORT OF SEPTIC TANK SLUDGE ......................................................................8
FIGURE 3 SHOWING HUMAN-POWERED EMPTYING AND TRANSPORT OF SEPTIC TANK SLUDGE ............................................................ 9
FIGURE 4 SHOWING A SOAK PIT ...........................................................................................................................................10
FIGURE 5 SHOWING A LEACH FIELD/DRAINAGE FIELD ................................................................................................................11
FIGURE 6 SHOWING A SOLIDS-FREE SEWER NETWORK ..............................................................................................................12
FIGURE 7 SHOWING A SECTIONAL ELEVATION OF ATYPICAL TWO COMPARTMENT SEPTIC TANK DESIGN AS ILLUSTRATED IN GCP 26:2007 . 18
FIGURE 8 SHOWING A FILTER BOX DESIGN AS ILLUSTRATED IN THE GCP 26: 2007 .........................................................................19
FIGURE 9 SHOWING A SECTIONAL ELEVATION OF A TYPICAL SEEPAGE PIT AS ILLUSTRATED IN GCP 26: 2007. ......................................20
FIGURE 10 SHOWING A LAYOUT & SECTIONAL VIEW OF AN ABSORPTION TRENCH AS ILLUSTRATED IN GCP 26: 2007. .......................... 21
FIGURE 11 SHOWING THE SECTIONAL ELEVATION OF A TYPICAL SAND FILTER TRENCH AS ILLUSTRATED IN GCP 26: 2007 ......................21
FIGURE 12 SHOWING THE EXISTING SEPTIC TANK FOR THE FAMILY OF 5........................................................................................27

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List of Tables
TABLE 1 RATE OF TOTAL SLUDGE ACCUMULATION (K), ON DAYS, PER INTERVAL BETWEEN CLEANINGS AND TEMPERATURE OF THE COLDEST
MONTH .................................................................................................................................................................14
TABLE 2 SHOWING THE PERIOD OF DETENTION (T) OF THE DISPOSSESSIONS, BY DAILY CONTRIBUTION ................................................ 14
TABLE 3 SHOWING THE DAILY CONTRIBUTION OF COOL SEWER (C) AND OF SLUDGE (LF) BY TYPE OF PROPERTY AND OF OCCUPANT...........15
TABLE 4 SHOWING SEPTIC TANK DESIGNED DIMENSIONS THAT ARE RECOMMENDED FOR USE IN AREAS WHERE IMPERMEABLE SOIL STRATA
PREVAIL, THAT IS, WHERE THE PERCOLATION RATE EXCEEDS 60 MINUTES. ...........................................................................15
TABLE 5 SHOWING DESIGN DIMENSIONS FOR SEPTIC TANK DESIGNED FOR ALL WASTES INCLUDING LAUNDRY WASTES ............................16
TABLE 6 SHOWING DESIGN DIMENSIONS FOR SEPTIC TANK DESIGNED FOR ALL WASTES EXCLUDING LAUNDRY WASTES ...........................16
TABLE 7 SHOWING RECOMMENDED METHODS OF DISPOSAL OF SEPTIC TANK EFFLUENT ...................................................................20

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Introduction
Sewage treatment is the process of removing physical, chemical and biological contaminants
from wastewater. It utilizes physical, chemical and biological processes to convert wastewater
into fluids and solids that are environmentally safe and suitable for disposal or possibly reuse.

Septic systems are small scale on-site sewage treatment systems that are used in areas where
there are no sewerage networks. Septic systems usually consist of a septic tank which performs
primary treatment and a secondary treatment system. Septic system utilises of anaerobic bacteria
to decompose or mineralize the waste within the tank. The solid materials then sink to the bottom
of the tank as sludge and the fluid drains out. The drained fluid may contain bacteria that could
be harmful to the immediate environment thus there is a need for a secondary treatment system
to treat this drained fluid. Also, the sludge that is not decomposed by the bacteria will build up
over time and as such the tank will require periodic cleaning.

To determine the capacity of the tank, the type of secondary treatment system and the frequency
at which the tanks need to be cleaned; a comprehensive analysis of area needs to be done; data
regarding the number of permanent/temporary users need to be gathered and calculations need to
be performed based on the prevailing standards.

The design of the septic system will comply with the local regulations, that is, The Code of
Practice for the design & construction of septic tanks and associated secondary treatment
and disposal system (GCP 26: 2007).

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1.0 Septic Systems
A typical septic system comprises of a septic tank-which performs primary treatment of the
waste; and a secondary treatment system, for example, a drain-field.

1.1 Primary Treatment (Septic Tanks)

1.1.1 What is a septic tank?


The septic tank is an enclosed receptacle designed to: collect excreta & flushwater from
flush toilets and other domestic sullage (collectively known as wastewater); segregate
settleable and floatable solids (sludge & scum); accumulate, consolidate and store solids;
digest organic matter and discharge partially or primarily treated effluent.
A septic tank is a watertight chamber made of concrete, fiberglass, PVC or plastic,
through which blackwater and greywater flows for primary treatment. Settling and
anaerobic processes reduce solids and organics, but the treatment is only moderate.

1.1.2 Processes Involved in the Treatment of Waste In the Septic Tank (Physical,
Chemical & biological)
The septic tank has an inlet and an outlet pipe. Wastewater flows from the home to the septic
tank through the sewer pipe. The septic tank treats the wastewater naturally by holding it in the
tank long enough for solids and liquids to separate. The wastewater forms three layers inside the
tank. Solids lighter than water (such as greases and oils) float to the top forming a layer of scum.
Solids heavier than water settle at the bottom of the tank forming a layer of sludge. This leaves a
middle layer of partially clarified wastewater (effluent).

The layers of sludge and scum remain in the septic tank and overtime, ae degraded anaerobically
by the bacteria found naturally in the wastewater. However, the rate of accumulation is faster
than the rate of decomposition, and the accumulated sludge and scum must be periodically
removed. The effluent of the septic tank must undertake secondary treatment & disposal.

Septic Tank Biology


Septic tanks are passive low-rate anaerobic digesters, with their own ecosystem, in which
facultative and anaerobic organisms perform complex biochemical processes. The tank
operates as a plug-flow type of reactor (fluid and particles enter and exit the tank in
progressive sequence), so there is usually no mixing or heating, particles ascend or descend
and stratification develops. Effluent quality suffers when this stratification doesnt develop.
The environment within the tanks clear zone is generally anoxic, or inadequate in oxygen,
while sites within the sludge and scum layers may be completely free of oxygen, or
anaerobic.
The inflowing wastewater directed into the clear zone (just beneath the scum layer) by the
inlet fixture normally contains high levels of dissolved oxygen. The microbial population,

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however, rapidly depletes the dissolved oxygen as the flow disperses in the tank and moves
towards the outlet. The bacteria found in residential wastewater are enteric, the same as those
found in the gut (Ziebell et al. 1974). These organisms are primarily heterotrophic bacteria
which oxidize and solubilize organic matter. Facultative microbes (organisms that can
function in either aerobic or anaerobic conditions) solubilize complex organic material to
volatile organic acids, while strict anaerobes ferment the volatile organic acids to gases
(methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, etc.). The microbes use the solubilized nutrients
in the wastewater for cell growth and energy. The microbes are enteric, therefore, natural
habitants of the wastewater, but it takes years to develop volatile organic acid and metabolite
concentrations sufficient for colonization of methane formers and optimum digestion. Their
population, growth and effectiveness are dependent on the characteristics of the wastewater
(e.g., temperature, organic load, inorganic trash, toxic chemicals or cleaners, excessive fats,
oils, grease, detergents, high hydraulic loads, etc.) as well as the sizing and design features of
the tank. Consequently, a tank must be adequately sized for the occupancy usage in order to
ensure a long-term quiescent environment for the organisms to colonize. When long-term
storage is allowed, the effectiveness of digestion within the layers of stored volatile solids
can be as great as 80 percent (Metcalf and Eddy, Inc., 1972), and the microbial population
(biomass) required to accomplish the feat may range from one-fifth to only one-twentieth of
that generated in an equivalent aerobic treatment process (Bitton, 1994).
The dominant bacterial groups measured in the septic tanks by Ziebell et al. in 1974, were
total and fecal coliform, fecal streptococci, lactic acid bacteria, anaerobes, and others. The
total bacteria population can range up to 230,000,000 per ml (Tyler et al. 1978). Taber (1976)
divided the bacteria into two groups, separating the methanogenic bacteria (e.g.Methano
bacterium), or methane formers, from the non-methanogenic bacteria (e.g. Bacillus, E.coli,
etc.).
The digestion that takes place in the tank is performed predominately by bacteria. The most
common bacteria shapes are spheres (coccus), rods (bacillus) and spirals (spirillum). These
shapes can be observed as individual cells, or they may be seen grouped or linked together.
Each organism is encapsulated by a slime layer of extracellular enzymes. These extracellular
enzymes hydrolyze organic material by adding water to the organic molecules, reducing
them to simple soluble organic compounds small enough to be absorbed through the cell
wall. Inside the cell, intracellular enzymes further metabolize and oxidize the volatile
organic molecules creating the energy required for cell growth. Enzymes are complex
proteins and can be precipitated, or have their enzyme reactive points tied up, by excessive
amounts of salts and heavy metals. Either of these contaminants will inhibit the ability of the
microbes to adequately produce their soluble organic nutrition, in effect, retarding the tanks
performance. Taking precautions to reduce excessive disposal of household products
containing large concentrations of zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, ammonium
sulfate, sodium sulfate, sodium chlorides, etc., is an important first step in assuring natural
biochemical processes. Normal or conservative residential uses of salts, bleaches and
detergents, however, are not detrimental to the microbial population.

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1.1.3 Design Considerations

Figure 1showing a sectional view of a septic tank

Source: (Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi, 2014)

A septic tank should have at least two chambers. The first chamber should be at least 50% of the
total length, and when there are only two chambers, it should be two thirds of the total length.
Most of the solids settle out in the first chamber. The baffle, or the separation between the
chambers, is to prevent scum and solids from escaping with the effluent. A T-shaped outlet pipe
further reduces the scum and solids that are discharged. Accessibility to all chambers (through
access ports) is necessary for maintenance. Septic tanks should be vented for controlled release
of odorous and potentially harmful gases. The design of a septic tank depends on the number of
users, the amount of water used per capita, the average annual temperature, the desludging
frequency and the characteristics of the wastewater. The retention time should be 48 hours to
achieve moderate treatment.

1.1.4 Usage of the Septic Tank/Appropriateness


This technology is most commonly applied at the household level. Larger, multi-chamber septic
tanks can be designed for groups of houses and/ or public buildings (e.g., schools). A septic tank
is appropriate where there is a way of dispersing or transporting the effluent. If septic tanks are
used in densely populated areas, onsite infiltration should not be used, otherwise, the ground will
become oversaturated and contaminated, and wastewater may rise up to the surface, posing a
serious health risk. Instead, the septic tanks should be connected to some type of Conveyance
technology, through which the effluent is transported to a subsequent Treatment or Disposal site.
Even though septic tanks are watertight, it is not recommended to construct them in areas with
high groundwater tables or where there is frequent flooding. Because the septic tank must be
regularly desludged, a vacuum truck should be able to access the location. Often, septic tanks are
installed in the home, under the kitchen or bathroom, which makes emptying difficult. Septic

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tanks can be installed in every type of climate, although the efficiency will be lower in colder
climates. They are not efficient at removing nutrients and pathogens.

1.1.5 Health Aspects/Acceptance


Under normal operating conditions, users do not come in contact with the influent or effluent.
Effluent, scum and sludge must be handled with care as they contain high levels of pathogenic
organisms. Users should be careful when opening the tank because noxious and flammable gases
may be released.

1.1.6 Operation & Maintenance of Septic Tanks


Because of the delicate ecology, care should be taken not to discharge harsh chemicals into the
septic tank. Scum and sludge levels need to be monitored to ensure that the tank is functioning
well. Generally, septic tanks should be emptied every 2 to 5 years. This is best done by using a
Motorized Emptying and Transport technology1, but Human-Powered Emptying2 can also be an
option. Septic tanks should be checked from time to time to ensure that they are watertight.
1
- Motorized emptying and transport refers to a vehicle equipped with a motorized pump and a
storage tank for emptying and transporting faecal sludge and urine. Humans are required to
operate the pump and manoeuvre the hose, but sludge is not manually lifted or transported.

Figure 2 showing motorized emptying and transport of septic tank sludge

Source: (Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi, 2014)


2
- Human-powered emptying and transport refers to the different ways by which people can
manually empty and/or transport sludge and solid products generated in onsite sanitation
facilities.

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Figure 3 showing human-powered emptying and transport of septic tank sludge

Source: (Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi, 2014)

1.1.7 Advantages & Disadvantages of Septic Tanks


PROS CONS
Simple & robust technology Low reduction in pathogens, solids & organics
No electrical energy is required Regular desludging must be ensured
Small land area required (can be built Effluent and sludge require further treatment and/or
underground) appropriate discharge
Long service life
Low operating costs

1.2 Secondary Treatment & Disposal Systems


The clarified liquid in the middle layer of the septic tank has to undergo secondary treatment
which can be done in many different ways, for example; using a soak pit, leach field or some
other treatment technology which involves transporting the effluent to that technology through
Solids-Free Sewer systems.

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1.2.1 Soak Pits

Figure 4 showing a soak pit

Source: (Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi, 2014)

A soak pit, also known as a soakaway or leach pit, is a covered, porous-walled chamber that
allows water to slowly soak into the ground. Pre-settled effluent from a Collection and
Storage/Treatment or (Semi-) Centralized Treatment technology is discharged to the
underground chamber from which it infiltrates into the surrounding soil.

As wastewater (greywater or blackwater after primary treatment) percolates through the soil
from the soak pit, small particles are filtered out by the soil matrix and organics are digested by
microorganisms. Thus, soak pits are best suited for soil with good absorptive properties; clay,
hard packed or rocky soil is not appropriate.

Pros & Cons


+ Can be built and repaired with locally available materials
+ Technique simple to apply for all users
+ Small land area required
+ Low capital and operating costs
- Primary treatment is required to prevent clogging
- May negatively affect soil and groundwater properties

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1.2.2 Leach Fields

Figure 5 showing a leach field/drainage field

Source: (Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi, 2014)

A leach field, or drainage field, is a network of perforated pipes that are laid in underground
gravel-filled trenches to dissipate the effluent from a water-based Collection and
Storage/Treatment or (Semi-) Centralized Treatment technology.

Pre-settled effluent is fed into a piping system (distribution box and several parallel channels)
that distributes the flow into the subsurface soil for absorption and subsequent treatment. A
dosing or pressurized distribution system may be installed to ensure that the whole length of the
leach field is utilized and that aerobic conditions are allowed to recover between dosings. Such a
dosing system releases the pressurized effluent into the leach field with a timer (usually 3 to 4
times a day).

Pros & Cons

+ Can be used for the combined treatment and disposal of effluent


+ Has a long lifespan (depending on conditions)
+ Low maintenance requirements if operating without mechanical equipment
+ Relatively low capital costs; low operating costs
- Requires expert design and construction
- Not all parts and materials may be locally available
- Requires a large area
- Primary treatment is required to prevent clogging
- May negatively affect soil and groundwater properties

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1.2.3 Solids Free Sewer

Figure 6 showing a Solids-free Sewer network

Source: (Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi, 2014)

A solids-free sewer is a network of small-diameter pipes that transports pre-treated and solids-
free wastewater (such as Septic Tank effluent). It can be installed at a shallow depth and does not
require a minimum wastewater flow or slope to function.

Solids-free sewers are also referred to as settled, smallbore, variable-grade gravity, or septic tank
effluent gravity sewers. A precondition for solids-free sewers is efficient primary treatment at the
household level. An interceptor, typically a single-chamber Septic Tank, captures settleable
particles that could clog small pipes. The solids interceptor also functions to attenuate peak
discharges. Because there is little risk of depositions and clogging, solids-free sewers do not have
to be self-cleansing, i.e., no minimum flow velocity or tractive tension is needed. They require
few inspection points, can have inflective gradients (i.e., negative slopes) and follow the
topography. When the sewer roughly follows the ground contours, the flow is allowed to vary
between open channel and pressure (full-bore) flow.

Pros & Cons


+ Does not require a minimum gradient or flow velocity
+ Can be used where water supply is limited
+ Lower capital costs than conventional gravity sewers; low operating costs
+ Can be extended as a community grows
+ Greywater can be managed concurrently
- Space for interceptors is required
- Interceptors require regular desludging to prevent clogging
- Requires training and acceptance to be used correctly
- Requires repairs and removals of blockages more frequently than a conventional gravity sewer
- Requires expert design and construction
- Leakages pose a risk of wastewater exfiltration and groundwater infiltration and are difficult to
identify
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2.0 Standards Available in Guyana for the Design of Septic
Tanks
The standard used in Guyana for the design of septic tanks is called:

Code of Practice for the design & construction of septic tanks and associated secondary
treatment and disposal systems GCP 26: 2007

This Guyana Standard was adapted in 2007 by the GNBS, after the draft was finalized by the
Sub-Committee Septic tanks sewerage systems and the National Buildings Code
Committee and approved by the National Bureau of Standards.

The standard basically gives recommendations for the design, location, construction and
maintenance of septic tanks. It includes methods of treatment and disposal of septic tank effluent
from domestic sewage.

Lastly, the standard is applicable to individual housing units and institutions where the number
of users does not exceed 20 persons

2.1 General Considerations of the Standard


a) the position and nature of outfall ditches and small streams;
b) the position of any boreholes, wells or water storage tanks;
c) the invert level of the drain at its point of entry into the proposed septic tank;
d) the effect of seepage and surface water from surrounding areas at higher levels than the
proposed absorption area; and
e) the effect of seepage from the proposed absorption area on surrounding inhabited areas.

2.2 Calculations

2.2.1 Septic Tank Capacity (Volume)

V = 1000 + N (C.T + K.Lf)..Equation 1.


V = chamber volume, in litres
N = number of users
C = contribution of dispossessions, in litres per person x day (obtained from Table 3)
T = detention period, in days (obtained from Table 2)
K = Rate of accumulation of sludge (obtained from Table 1)
Lf = contribution of sludge fresh, in litres per person x day (obtained from Table 3)

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Interval between
Value of K by room temperature band (t), in 0C
cleaning (Years)
t 10 10 t t 20
1 94 65 57
2 134 105 97
3 174 145 137
4 214 185 177
5 254 225 217

Table 1 Rate of total sludge accumulation (K), on days, per interval between cleanings and temperature of the
coldest month

Source: table 1, page 4 of GCP 26: 2007

Daily contribution in litres Detention (T)/days Time/Hours

Even 1,500 1.00 24


From 1,501 to 3,000 0.92 22
From 3,001 to 4,500 0.83 20
From 4,501 to 6,000 0.75 18
From 6,001 to 7,500 0.67 16
From 7,501 to 9,000 0.58 14
More than 9,000 0.50 12
Table 2 showing the period of detention (T) of the dispossessions, by daily contribution

Source: table 2, page 4 of GCP 26: 2007

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Sewer Contribution of
Property Unit contribution ( sludge fresh
C) (Lf)
1. Permanent occupants
person/litres 160 1
Residents: person/litres 130 1
- High standard : person/litres 100 1
- Average standard: person/litres 80 1
- Provisional lodging.
2. Temporary occupants

Factory in general; person/litres 70 0.3


- Desk person/litres 50 0.2
- Public or commercial
person/litres 50 0.2
buildings
- School (half day) and person/litres 50 0.2
long permanence sites; person/litres 6 0.1
- Bars; repasts 25 0.1
- Restaurants and similar; place 2 0.02

- Cinema theatres and sites


vase 480 4
of short permanence;

Public sanitary

Table 3 showing the daily contribution of cool sewer (C) and of sludge (L f) by type of property and of occupant

Source: table 3, page 5 of GCP 26: 2007

Nominal Recommended Dimensions (m)


Number of users
capacity (L)
Length Width Liquid Total Depth
Up to & including
1450 1.50 0.75 1.20 1.50
9
10 1610 1.75 0.75 1.30 1.60

11 to 15 1820 1.90 0.75 1.30 1.70

16 to 20 2420 2.20 0.75 1.40 1.70

Table 4 showing septic tank designed dimensions that are recommended for use in areas where impermeable soil strata
prevail, that is, where the percolation rate exceeds 60 minutes.

Source: table 5, page 6 of GCP 26: 2007

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Table 5 showing design dimensions for septic tank designed for all wastes including laundry wastes

Note: The above table was calculated using the following variables: C = 130 (above standard),
T = 1, K = 2, Lf = 1

Source: table 4, page 6 of GCP 26: 2007

Table 6 showing design dimensions for septic tank designed for all wastes excluding laundry wastes

Source: table 6, page 7 of GCP 26: 2007


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2.2.2 Septic Tank Length

L = V/ (1000 x W x HD)Equation 2.
Where:V = Chamber volume, in litres
L = Length of Chamber, in metres
W = Width, in meters (in accordance with clause 4.4).
HD = Liquid depth, in meters (in accordance with clause 4.4).

2.2.3 Design Considerations


Location
Septic tank should be designed such that it is:

not within 1.5 m of a building or property boundary


accessible for desludging and maintenance

Minimum Dimensions
Septic tanks shall have a minimum width of 0.75 m and a liquid depth ranging from 1.2
to 1.5 m. The clearance above water level should not be less than 0.3m.
The length to width ratio for rectangular septic tanks shall not be less than 2 nor shall it
be greater than 3.

Recommended Design
Septic tanks may be designed with one compartment or with two compartments
Double compartment tanks are recommended as they have a greater capability for
suspended solids removal.
In double compartment tanks the inlet compartment should have a capacity of to 2/3s
of the total tank capacity, and the inlet compartment should have a capacity of not less
than 1450 L.

Pipes & fittings


A minimum pipe diameter of 100mm is recommended.

Inlet Invert
The invert level of the inlet fitting shall be at a distance not less than 75mm above water
level and the clearance between the top of the vertical leg of the inlet fitting and the
underside roof of the tank shall be not less than 75 mm.

Outlet Invert
The invert level of the outlet fitting shall not be less than 75 mm below the invert level of
the inlet fitting and the vertical leg of the outlet fitting shall extend downward for a
distance of not less than 330 mm.
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Tank Cover
Each tank shall be provided with a cover of adequate strength. Access openings shall be
provided for the purposes of desludging and inspection.

Minimum Cover to Reinforcement


The minimum cover to reinforcement in reinforced concrete tank sections shall be 43 mm
(50% more than the ordinary concrete).

2.2.4 Construction
The wall of a septic tank may be constructed of blocks, concrete or other suitable material
approved by the responsible authority. The walls and floors shall be rendered with mortar
of adequate strength to make the septic tank assembly completely water-tight to surface
and sub-surface water.
Access opening covers the cover to access openings shall be of reinforced concrete,
cast iron or any other material approved by the responsible authority. A cover shall
incorporate a suitable lifting device, shall be in one piece, and shall fit neatly and be
seated to prevent the ingress of water.
Thickness of floors & walls the minimum thickness of floors and walls shall be as
follows, unless otherwise approved by the responsible authority:
a) For plain concrete walls, 150 mm, but the floor slab shall be 100 mm thick and
shall be provided with anti-crack reinforcement at the top and bottom;
b) For reinforced concrete floors & walls, 100 mm thick;
c) For walls constructed of blocks, 175 mm thick, but the floor shall be of reinforced
concrete 100 mm thick and provided with anti-crack reinforcement at the top &
bottom; and
d) The floor shall be level.

Figure 7 showing a sectional elevation of atypical two compartment septic tank design as illustrated in GCP 26:2007

Source: (Sankies, Munroe, Williams, Seecharan, et al., 2007)

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2.3 Secondary treatment & disposal systems

2.3.1 Filter Box


The filter box shall be used wherever the water table is below 1.8 m or where impermeable soil
strata prevail. They are basically used to provide additional treatment of septic tank effluent.
Filter boxes contain gravel or crushed rocks as the filter media. Minimum volume of the filter is
1250 L. The pipes and fittings between the septic tank and the filter shall have a minimum
diameter of 0.1 m. It shall be placed in the center of the filter and is allowed a steady level of
effluent, 30 cm from top of the filter bed.

Figure 8 showing a filter box design as illustrated in the GCP 26: 2007

Source: (Sankies, Munroe, Williams, Seecharan, et al., 2007)

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Calculations for filter box
The volume of the filter (V) in litres should be calculated using the following equation:

V = 1.6 x N.C.T
Where:V = volume in litres; and

S = horizontal section

Methods of Effluent Disposal


The effluent from a septic tank shall be disposed of by one of the methods listed below.
Recommended methods of disposal for various soil and subsoil conditions are given in Table 7
below.

Table 7 showing recommended methods of disposal of septic tank effluent

I. Seepage Pit

Figure 9 showing a sectional elevation of a typical seepage pit as illustrated in GCP 26: 2007.

Source: (Sankies, Munroe, Williams, Seecharan, et al., 2007)

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II. Absorption Trench

Figure 10 showing a layout & sectional view of an absorption trench as illustrated in GCP 26: 2007.

Source: (Sankies, Munroe, Williams, Seecharan, et al., 2007)

III. Sand Filter Trench

Figure 11 showing the sectional elevation of a typical sand filter trench as illustrated in GCP 26: 2007

Source: (Sankies, Munroe, Williams, Seecharan, et al., 2007)

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3.0 Septic Tank Design
3.1 Preliminary Data for Design
As highlighted in the Code of Practice for the design & construction of septic tanks and
associated secondary treatment and disposal systems, the soil data is a relative factor in the
design of a septic tank. Assumption is being made that the soil type is best suited for the design
of the septic tank. The soil is assumed to be of dense clays and soil with a percolation rate greater
than sixty minutes. The water table is approximately 1.8m below ground level. The number of
permanent users for the septic tank design is six (6).

3.2 Calculations for Septic Tank Design

3.2.1 Capacity of Septic Tank


The capacity of the septic tank is to be determined using equation 1 (Section 4.1.1 GCP 26:
2007)

V = 1000 + N (C.T + K.Lf)...Equation 1.

V = chamber volume, in litres


N = number of users
=6
C = contribution of dispossessions, in litres per person x day (obtained from Table 3)
= 80 for average standard permanent occupants
T = detention period, in days (obtained from Table 2)
= 1.0
K = Rate of accumulation of sludge (obtained from Table 1)
= 177 (assuming 3 year interval between cleanings and room temperature, t > 20 oC)
Lf = contribution of sludge fresh, in litres per person x day (obtained from Table 3)
= 1 (since we are dealing with average standard permanent occupants)
V = 1000 + N (C.T + K.Lf)

V = 1000 + 6 [(80 x 1) + (177 x1)]

V = 2542 L

Since the volume calculated is between 1,501 to 3000 litres in daily contribution, the volume will
change using the appropriate and corresponding values from table 2.

From table 2, T = 0.92

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Therefore, V = 1000 + 6 [(80 x 0.92) + (177 x 1)]

V = 2503.6 L

3.2.2 Length of Septic Tank


The length of the septic tank was calculated according to equation two (2) (Section 4.1.2 GCP
26: 2007).

L = V/ (1000 x W x HD).Equation 2.

Where:
V = chamber volume, in litres
= 2503.6 L
L = length of chamber, in meters
W = width of chamber, in meters
= 1.00 m according to table 5
HD= Liquid depth, in meters
= 1.25 m according to table 5
L = V/(1000 x W x HD)

= 2503.6/(1000 x 1.00 x 1.25)

L = 2.003 m

According to the design regulations, (section 4.4.1 of GCP 26:2007), the length to width ratio for
a rectangular septic tank should not be less than 2 nor greater than 3. Since the design tank is
rectangular in shape a check should be performed.

Check:

Ratio = Length/Width

= 2.003 m / 1.00 m

Ratio = 2.003

Since the ratio is 2.003, the dimensions for the proposed septic tank are acceptable.

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3.2.3 Two Chambers Septic Tank
The septic tank being designed has two chambers instead of one. According to the regulations,
section 4.5.1 of GCP 26: 2007, the inlet compartment should have a capacity of no less than
1450 L and should have a capacity of one half to two thirds of the total tank capacity.

Capacity of chamber one = 2/3 x 2503.6 L

= 1669.07 L..Acceptable

Therefore, capacity of chamber two = (2503.6 1669.07) L

= 824.53 L

Width of inlet chamber = 1.00 m

Using: L = V/(1000 x W x HD)

Length of chamber one (inlet) = 1509.07 / (1000 x 1.00 x 1.25)

= 1.335 m

Width of outlet chamber = 1.00 m

Length of chamber two (outlet) = total length length of chamber one

= 2.003 m 1.335 m

= 0.668 m

Total depth of entire septic tank = 1.55 m according to table 5 for 6 users

3.2.4 Pipes & Fittings


According to the regulations, section 4.6 of GCP 26: 2007, the pipes should be placed in straight
lines and avoid bends with a minimum diameter of 0.1m. Thus, all pipes and fitting shall be of
0.1m diameter.

3.2.5 Tank Cover


According to regulations, section 4.6.6 of GCP 26: 2007, each tank should be provided with a
cover of adequate strength and a minimum cross section of 650 mm x 450 mm. The

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recommended design dimensions for this tank would be 650 mm x 500 mm which will be
constructed directly above the interior opening of the outlet pipe and carry a lifting device.

3.2.6 Construction
According to the regulations, sections 4.8, 4.8.1, 4.8.2 of GCP 26: 2007, the septic tank may be
constructed of blocks, concrete or any suitable material. Concrete with a 1:2:3 mix ratio is
preferable, as well as high strength blocks for the walls of the tank to ensure the tank is water
tight to surface and sub-surface water. The walls shall have a thickness of 175 mm and the floor
slab a thickness of 100 mm with adequate reinforcement to comply with the regulations in
standards.

3.3 Secondary Treatment & Disposal Systems


Taking into consideration the soil data and the regulations, the most suitable method for the
secondary treatment and disposal of effluent will be the filter box. The regulations that will
govern this design comply with section 5.1.3 of the code of practice.

3.3.1 Filter Box


Using equation three (section 5.1.3 of GCP 26: 2007) from the code of practice the volume of
the filter box (Vf) can be calculated.

Equation Three : Vf =1.6 x N.C.T

Where:
V = volume, in litres
N = number of users
=6
C = contribution of dispossessions, in litres per person x day (obtained from Table 3)
= 80 (according table 3)
T = detention period, in days (obtained from Table 2 in Appendix)
= 0.92 (according to table 2)
Therefore; Vf = 1.6 x (6 x 80 x 0.92)
Vf= 706.56 L

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But according to the regulations, section 5.1.3 of GCP 26: 2007, the minimum volume of filter
shall be 1250 L, thus the recommended volume of the filter will be 1250 L. Filter median is
gravel ranging from 3.8 6.4 cm. Following regulations the depth of the media filter will be
1.8m with a total recommended depth of 2.5 m and a width of 0.90 m (same width of septic
tank). Using equation two to determine the length:

L = V/(1000 x W x HD)

Length of filter box = 1250/(1000 x 0.90 x 1.8)

= 0.772 m

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4.0 Adequacy Check of Existing Septic Tank

Figure 12 showing the existing septic tank for the family of 5

Length of current septic tank = 2.75 m

Width of current septic tank = 1.36 m

Depth of current septic tank = 1.75 m

HD of current septic tank = 1.25 m

4.1 Check for length to width ratio


Length to width ratio =

= 2.75 m/1.36 m

= 2.02 m

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4.2 Capacity of the present tank
V = L x 1000 x W x HD

V = 2.75 x 1000 x 1.36 x 1.25

V = 4,675 L

The current septic tank system is located at a distance of 1.65 m from building boundaries. Its
width is greater than 0.75 m and a liquid depth that lies between the boundaries 1.2 to 1.5. It has
a cover with dimensions 0.60 m x 0.45 m. From calculations, it has a capacity of 4.675 litres and
a length to width ratio of 2.02. These figures and dimensions, except for the cover dimensions
and capacity, fall within the regulations found within the code of practice. The capacity is
significantly greater than the required nominal capacity. This therefore means that the interval
between cleanings can be increased from three to probably four or five years. With consideration
of the nominal cross section of the tank cover as indicated by the Code of Practice, the existing
tank is inadequate but to a small extent.

The filter box, however, has deteriorated over time and due to this, measurements could not have
been made and as such the parameters necessary for the checking the adequacy of the filter box
could not have been deduced.

Hence, with consideration of the checks performed, it can be concluded that the existing tank
was designed within the regulations and overall, is considered adequate for a family of 6.

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Conclusion
Septic tanks require little maintenance, they provide partial treatment of excreta, have long
service lives, low operating costs, require no electrical energy and most of all they allow safe
disposal of waste water, particularly in rural areas where it would be impractical to make use of
sewer systems.

The design process of septic tanks is a relatively simple one and is outlined in the Code of
Practice for the design & construction of septic tanks and associated secondary treatment
and disposal system (GCP 26: 2007).

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Bibliography
Guyana Standards GCP 26: 2007 Code of Practice for the design and construction of septic
tanks and associated secondary treatment and disposal systems Guyana National Bureau
of Standards. (2008). Retrieved April 9, 2016, from Powershow.com:
http://www.powershow.com/view4/42efb5-
OTY4Y/Guyana_Standards_GCP_26_2007_Code_of_Practice_for_the_design_and_cons
truction_of_septic_tanks_and_associated_secondary_treatment_and_disposal_systems_G
uyana_National_Bureau_of_Standards_powerpoint_ppt_presentati

How a Septic Tank and Septic System Works. (2010). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from Septic
System Service: http://www.jgallagherseptic.com/how-a-septic-system-works.asp

Sankies, Munroe, Williams, Seecharan, et al. (2007). Code of Practice for The Design &
Construction of Septic Tanks and associated Secondary Treatment and Disposal Systems
(GCP 26: 2007). Georgetown: Guyana National Bureau of Standards.

Tilley, Ulrich, Reymond, Luthi. (2014). Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technology.
Switzerland.

What is a septic system? How do I maintain one? (2016). Retrieved April 9, 2016, from Septic
Systems - National Environmental Services Center:
http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/subpages/septic_defined.cfm

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