How To Turn Heavy Rains Into An Onsite Wastewater System

Posted on: 20 September 2017

If you live in an area of the country that is regularly bombarded by rain (e.g., the Northwest or the South/Southeast), you have a golden opportunity to turn all that rain into something useful. Rather than rely on city water or well water, you can create an onsite wastewater system. Here is how that works.

Build a Cistern

Yes, cisterns are a little old-fashioned, but how else would you collect the rainwater? You can either have your cistern above ground with the plumbing coming into the house from the bottom of the cistern, or put your cistern below ground, with the pipes coming from the top of the cistern.

If you choose the latter type of cistern, you will need a cover and a filtration system to make sure nothing unpleasant ends up in your rainwater supply that you do not want there (e.g., bugs, dirt, etc.). You will also want to install a water softener system inside the house so that the rainwater is purified and safe to use. Of course, you would need the water softener either way, but you definitely need it if you put the cistern underground.

Add Your Own Water Purification Station

To have an onsite wastewater system, you also need a water purification station. This is a set of machines and tanks that process wastewater and purify it so that it can be reused. It is clean and free of fecal matter and chemicals found in urine. You can choose to return the purified wastewater (which is now just clean water) to your cistern, or you can build a second cistern to hold the purified water from the station. 

If you opt for the latter choice, the two cisterns can be joined together by plumbing. A special pump and a manual release value allow you to open the passage between the two cisterns if there is a slight drought for a couple weeks. Then you can use the treated water as a backup water source until it rains again.

Make Sure You Have a Septic System Too

As for wastewater, it travels from the house to the septic system. Instead of emptying into a leach field, the plumbing from the septic system heads to your water purification station, where it is automatically treated and cleaned, and then sent to your primary or secondary cistern. In this way, you have one self-sustaining water system for your house that utilizes both heavy rainwater and treated wastewater. You will never have to pay another water bill again.