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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > FALL 2018 > THE DECISION


We all go. But where does it go? Choosing the right cottage waste-water system depends on many factors. Here are your options

Choose the right system

Kicking back after a barbecue, comparing treatment systems. We’ve all done it. But there’s no ideal, one-fits-all solution

Tip Regular pump-outs and maintenance keep a septic system, conventional or advanced, in shape. With advanced systems, additional costs include electricity and the replacement of the filtering media and mechanical parts.

A conventional septic system

Option #1

Best for large, level lots with deep, well-drained soils

COST $15K–$40K (for this and all systems, depending on cottage size, soils, lot, and access)

“The soils you have will tell you what you need,” says Alberta septic designer Daniel Morris. Deep, permeable soils on a flat or gently sloping lot may be whispering “conventional septic.” The typical setup includes a double-chambered concrete, plastic, or fibreglass tank and a distribution system, a.k.a.the leaching, tile, or area bed, or treatment field, where effluent from the tank seeps from pipes or infiltration chambers into sand, gravel, and soil. Modern systems have an effluent filter to screen out solids (a good retrofit for older systems; a requirement in Alberta) and often a distribution box to ensure the pipes get equal access to the tank’s output. The effluent must take at least a week to work through the soil’s natural filter before hitting the water table, says Lesley Desjardins of the Western Canada Onsite Wastewater Management Association. By then, effluent should meet public swimming standards, if not better.

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About Cottage Life

Have hammer, will cottage? The Fall issue of Cottage Life will help you get a jump on finishing up your summer projects, closing up for the season, or starting on next year’s building plans. Get inspired by (and get the secrets to designing) the new classic cottage: a sleek, green, modern cottage with the heart of a cabin in the woods. Find plans for the ultimate DIY kids’ bunkie, jam-packed with features like a zipline, a climbing wall, and monkey bars. Outsmart the mice with our expert animal-proofing advice. Become a firewood pro with tips and a guide to splitting, stacking, and storing your wood, and sharpening your chainsaw. Make a simple firewood storage tower in a weekend. Read up about your best options for waste water, including septics, grey-water systems, holding tanks, and composting toilets. Plus, when it comes time to pack up your kitchen, don’t haul home a summer’s worth of leftover hamburger buns and broken cookies. We’ve got recipes to help you turn them into a feast to end the season. The issue also includes your discount for the Fall Cottage Life Show. Pick up the Fall 2018 issue today for the best of autumn at the cottage!