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A Septic Tank is a watertight chamber made of concrete, fibreglass, PVC or plastic, for the storage and treatment of blackwater and greywater. Settling and anaerobic processes reduce solids and organics, but the treatment is only moderate. A Septic Tank should typically 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 2/3 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 will further reduce the scum and solids that are discharged. Liquid flows into the tank and heavy particles sink to the bottom, while scum (oil and fat) floats to the top. With time, the solids that settle to the bottom are degraded anaerobically. However, the rate of accumulation is faster than the rate of decomposition, and the accumulated sludge must be removed at some point. Generally, Septic Tanks should be emptied every 2 to 5 years, although they should be checked yearly to ensure proper functioning. The design of a Septic Tank depends on the number of users, the amount of water used per capita, the average annual temperature, the pumping frequency and the characteristics of the wastewater. The retention time should be designed for 48 hours to achieve moderate treatment.
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