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.
As you may know from researching this topic, failing septic systems are a major financial and environmental problem in this country. Expensive septic repairs can often run from $5,000 to $20,000 or more and a large number of systems are failing throughout the country. For news stories related to failing septic systems and tightening regulations you can go to: http://www.laundry-alternative.com/Septic_Systems/failingseptic.htm
You also can't sell your home if it has a failing system. For more information on how to properly maintain your septic system, go to: http://www.laundry-alternative.com/septic-system-maintenance/