April 30th, 2015
What is a cesspool? A cesspool is an underground pit into which sewage is discharged. They used to be the standard type of household waste disposal system and still can be found in older homes.
There are a number of problems associated with cesspools. First of all, cesspools do not do a good job of treating wastewater. For one, the waste goes too far down into the ground, which is bad for two reasons. First of all, waste is best treated by the top 26 inches of soil, which contains aerobic (oxygen-consuming) bacteria. Aerobic bacteria process waste material much quicker than anaerobic bacteria (which don't use oxygen and are found below this point). Secondly, because the waste goes deeper into the ground, it is much more likely to get into the groundwater before being treated by bacteria. In fact, if you have a well, it can pull the sewage right back into your house. There are still a fair number of homes around the country where you can flush a red dye down the toilet, and 20 minutes later it will be coming out of the kitchen faucet.