What's that smell?
This is not a pleasant topic so you may stop reading now if you feel slightly squirmish. Have you ever wondered what happens to the stuff you flush down the toilet? Well, it’s kind of the first thing you need to plan for when building a house.
While in most countries there are regulations to be followed when constructing a septic system, in Indonesia you have to rely on your / your workers’ knowledge and experience. Whenever you walk around Bali it is not unusual to be greeted by unpleasant smells particularly in the densely built up areas, which have no proper sewage systems.
Hence why we wanted to make sure we had a proper system in place. For those of you who, like me, have no idea what is involved in the construction of a septic tank, here is a very simple explanation.
A household septic system is made up of two parts: the holding tank and the overflow / ‘digesting’ tank. The waste fills the first tank, with solids falling to the bottom. When the liquid reaches a certain level it flows into the second tank. Most of the solids liquefy over time and disperse. Thirty percent of the waste goes into the ground and the sun evaporates the other seventy percent. You could also be more creative and use the recycled waste water for gardening or other uses around the house.
Of course it is best to reduce the amount of solid waste that is disposed of at source. In Indonesia most loos have a jet-washer, which replaces the need for loo roll. This has a two-fold beneficial effect on the environment in that you are using less paper and not clogging up the septic tank!
Tip: While it is preferable to locate the septic tank close to the source (ie bathroom), you also need to ensure that the wind blows in the right direction (ie away from the house), as you would not want any unpleasant smells lurking around!