Construction Report: It Runs Downhill

At least, I thought it did, but now I am corrected.

Our new septic field is under construction. This thing looks big enough to me to accommodate a family of 24. Surely we two are not expected to use all this!

The septic field

Is there going to be test?

In any case, it’s been instructional. I have learned that, except for when it leaves the house and heads for the tank,

Septic tank at home in its burrow

it, this effluvium of ours, does not run downhill. It runs dead level. The contractors have been out there with laser levels making sure the line is level within one inch from its start to the end. “What?” I said. “How can this be?”

Here is the pipe that snakes through the septic field:

The septic serpent

Believe me, it’s level. In this view, the connections between sections aren’t closed yet, and after our recent snow, the excavators found the snow had shoved the line around here and there. They were out there with their lasers again, putting it back. (At least… there is the possibility they were shooting down satellites with their rotating laser level, but if so, they missed. Nothing landed.) Here is one in the field (not our field: this is a photo by Bill Bradley (billbeee 02:38, 29 April 2007), generously made available on Wikipedia.)

Photo by Bill Bradley

You can see a staff lying at an angle against the pile of dirt. That staff carries graduated markings, and a movable sensor that is capable of detecting the laser. When the beam crosses the sensor, the sensor gives a signal [beep!].

It’s amusing in an arch sort of way to note the use of shovels next to this 21st Century piece of equipment. Plumb and level are some of the most basic measurements, and should be at home with a shovel: a plumb bob runs on gravity and a spirit level works because a bubble floats on liquid. (Want to know more? Bob is called plumb because he is made of lead: Latin plumbum. The spirit level, invented around 1660 by Melchisedech Thevenot, is called that because ethanol, a distilled spirit, was used as the liquid inside the curved tube in which the bubble floats; ethanol because its freezing point is lower than that of water.)

In any event this is a closer view of the well-leveled pipe:

a closer look

And now, closer:


Those little louver looking things are openings, whole lots of them. Apparently, instead of the contents of the pipe flowing gracefully downhill, it seeps out all along the way. If I am to assess the amount of seepage through that pipe early on in the progress, I would guess very little of our output will ever see the far end of it. It’s a looooooong way from the house.

I’m a little worried about the test. What happens if we’re not up to it?

Published in: Uncategorized on February 16, 2008 at 6:10 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We’ll have to eat and drink more! And maybe after the house is finished we can have a party.

  2. And be merry!


  3. Give me plenty of advance notice. I’ll try to be there!

    — ge

  4. It would be my pleasure!


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