Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Shit hole rejuvenated

Sorry for this vulgar title but let's face it, sex and sh...., these are potent centers of human interest. Thus I thought to give it a try and let's count the number of readers between now and one month from here. Right now, on the counter, the score is 2045!

The wording taken apart, here is a serious subject.

Living outside of a tiny village, this house is not linked to a sewage treatment installation where the toilet and washing water disappear through a pipe to an unknown destination. No, we have to do the job locally and the system is called "septic tank".

Quite ingenious: the waste liquid goes into a huge underground tank where the stuff ferments and the solids separate a bit from the water. Even the toilet paper is totally digested. That not so clean but reasonably clean water runs then through a quite large underground gravel bed and what comes out - but never to the surface - is clean water.

And every eight to ten years I have to order a tank truck to suck the stuff up, pay 200 € (about 250 US $), fill it with clean water and the cycle starts again.

Now it is well known that not all houses over here and elsewhere in rural France are thus equipped. Many farmers have simply a covered-up shit hole like their forefathers and are happy with this. But not the administration. So they voted a new law obliging every rural household to equip themselves with an up to date septic tank.

In order to win over the reluctant bone heads, the local administration organized meetings. Rough going. There was this old peasant yelling "I won't install your shit tank, only over my dead body". And adding, for good measure: "what we have is perfect and satisfied my family for 50 years. It works perfectly! Perfectly I tell you!!"

The last words were probably a mistake. There were catcalls. "Hey, Marcel, don't you remember the postman, some years ago? He fell into your shit hole with a letter for you and he couldn't even come out by himself. There was laughter, everybody roared. Even old Marcel joined in, at least he was in the center of interest. He'll do the job like everybody else and shell out the money.

So much for the basics.

The next step was to send an inspector to every house in the realm. The guy comes, you show him what you have, he makes an analysis of your system and gives you four year for upgrading. Here at home, I just had to upgrade by installing a ventilation and this I did.

On the last photo, you see the red-brown pipe chimney right above the gutter. That's me, I did it. And believe me, IT DOES NOT STINK. Halleluja!!


  1. Hi Georg,

    This is an interesting subject indeed. I am sure folks who have lived in cities all their lives will be surprised!

    I have lived in a couple of places where there was no sewage system and septic tanks were the order of the day, with a ventilation pipe in place. Fortunately I never got to smelling it because of the height at which it terminated.

    The one difference between what you have described and what I have seen is that when a septic tank fills up after a few years, a new on is trucks to suck off all the old stuff to keep the old one going. Lucky you!

  2. Hallo Vinod,

    That's very interesting. However, if they just dig up a new hole it means implicitly there is no underground gravel bed for water purification.

    Who knows: all this might have changed in India, too, since you have lived in the country side.

    Could well be you have right now the same scenes of people's revolt by some block heads as I described for France.


  3. A Halleluja from me too! Great work ;o)
    And welcome back! Hope you had a great trip?!I will fly to Mallorca Saturday night, for 6 days.Looking forward to spend some relaxed days by the sea - but one thing makes me always feel sad,when I will be a few days away from home: Leaving my dog and cat alone...I really don´t like it and miss them always so much...But that is life...everything has both sides.
    Wish you a great friday tomorrow.Nighty night from germany!

  4. oh herr Georg
    great post, and yeah! it's surprising the things one have to do when living away from the town, in Autlán, even if in the middle of the town, when I was a girl, my grandma's home had one of these, and I cannot say it didn't stink... it was part of the summer charm to know I had to use one of these, but as the years went by the charm faded with the lack of practicality, glad yours works perfectly now!

    always good to have you back behind that computer of yours!

  5. we have septics here too in some places :) i guess marcel doesn't realize that his shit could leach into his drinking water and cause all kinds of issues. expensive in the short term- pays for itself in the long term. good job on the not stinking! :)

  6. Hallo Georgy!
    Good going with keeping your septic tank updated. I hope the other folks around there will shape up and comply with the rules as well... After all, if their stuff get into the underground water source, it would stink up with everybody else as well, ay? (they remind me of the anti-vaccination people here who think nothing of sending their unvaccinated kids to mingle with other kids and expose them to things like whooping cough that should be stuff of memory rather than reality to us by now)

    And, it's good to have you back! Hope you're resting up well from all the adventures in the Pyrenese!

    Smorgy :o)

  7. Hi to everybody, thanks for commenting on this a bit out of the way subject

    To Geisslein
    Let me wish you a happy trip to to Mallorca and interesting holidays there. If it is possible, don't miss to travel to the interior. Great sites to visit. What about climbing the Puig Mayor?

    To Berenice
    Before reading all those comments I did not realize that lots of people know this contrivance. So you were a specialist user, too.

    To Betmo
    You are absolutely right. There is a hygiene problem involved, I never thought about this. In fact, some years ago, our water had streptocoques in it - I thought caused by cow shit - and now it is so heavily chlorinated that most people drink bottled water or have filters.

    To Smorgy
    Well, this shit cleaning law will be obeyed because those who don't update their installation within 4 years will face a heavy fine.

    As to vaccination, there is a difference. Septic tanks are undisputed but there are some vaccinations that cause death to one child in thousand or ten thousand. I am sure you know hundred times more about it than me . But it is true as well that one's liberty ends where it endanger your neighbor.

    Cheers to all of you

  8. There is a colony in Delhi caleed the Sainik Farms.It said to be completely unothorised.It has the elite living there.All the bunglows, have septic tanks as there is no swerege system.
    Well there we go.

  9. Contente de savoir que tu as passé de bonnes vacances!
    Dans notre pays ou dans un autre, il y a toujours le problème de mise aux normes, c'est pénible, mais c'est vital pour l'avenir!

  10. Je te réponds tout de suite pour la musique, étant donné que j'en change avec chaque article, je vais oublier.
    C'est une musique Feng Shui de Karin Nobbs qui s'intitule "Clarté du ciel" elle fait partie de "musique pour l'atelier"
    bonne fin de journée

  11. Hi BK Chowla,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. Those posh mansions might have a system comparable to ours. It might be interesting to find out and to compare.

    Pour Viviane

    Donc, tu as lu ce texte! A ce moment je me trouve quelques années lumière de l'astronomie.

    Merci aussi pour la précision concernant cette étonnante musique.
    Et bisous à toi aussi.


  12. Hi Georg,

    Sorry for this late response. I don't recall the exact details but I remember that at the bottom of the septic tank there was a gravel bed and perhaps some charcoal too, and sand? Whatever the combo may have been, it was perhaps a foot or more thick. When a new pit was dug, it was also filled up with the same cleaning materials.

    In the country side those days, most people defecated in the open, in fields etc, may be due to warm weather and no fear of the exposed vitals freezing during winters! That is changing slowly in some parts and rapidly in others, with toilets coming up inside homes, like in the cities, but with septic tanks. I am sure there must have been significant design improvements, but I am not aware of them.

  13. Don't know much about septic tanks, so this was very informative for me.

    Good to see you back and I'm impressed with how handy you are about the house; the 'red-brown pipe chimney' above the gutter was a brilliant addition!

    Any chance some neighbors may follow by example...?

  14. To Vinod

    Thanks for your input. Compared to India, France is an empty country. Thus I suppose this kind of pollution will create a huge problem.

    To Id
    Thanks for the compliment. Yes, I am very proud of this "chimney". It stands upright, did not move due to strong winds and there is absolutely no smell. The best of worlds.


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