What do you know about wastewater treatment? Better yet, do you even care? You might be like
most people and just flush anything down your toilet that you think will not stop it up. If you are in the kitchen, do you just put stuff in the disposal and grind it up? How many times have you poured bacon grease down the drain and wondered if its better to run the hot or cold water? Guilty or not guilty? Its time to take some responsibility and educate yourself. You can be part of the sewage problem become part of the sewage solution.
Wastewater issues are nothing new. As ancient nomadic tribes began to build more permanent
structures, garbage and wastewater became an important concern. No longer could they allow the
earth and soil to treat their waste as they followed migrating herds. In the City of Ur, as far back a 3500 B.C., it was common practice to sweep wastes into the streets and raising the doors as the street levels rose.
Around 2500 B.C., in what is now Pakistan, some houses had flushing toilets. As ancient cities became overwhelmed, they diverted their wastes to rivers, slowly polluting them one by one.
The Minoan culture on the Island of Crete between 1500 –1700 B.C., used a terra-cotta piping system similar to the ones we use today. The Greeks had the first garbage dumps and the Romans’ waste treatment methods were the most developed prior to the 19th century. Even with their advances, Rome was still an unhealthy city, and with the fall of the Roman Empire, sanitation technology entered into its “Dark which lasted a thousand
After the major plagues of the 12th century, management became a priority. In 1372, England’s King Edward forbid dumping “harmful things" into the River Thames and in 1388 Parliament “forbade the throwing of filth and garbage into ditches, rivers and water.
Fast forward we find the septic tank was invented in 1860; it was large and built for communities. “The main purpose of these tanks was to remove gross solids before discharge into the nearest stream or river.” The problem then and even today remains, “The effluent was largely untreated and caused pollution of streams and rivers.”
The pollution of water cannot be solved by a septic tank.
So what was waste water’s driving force for these thousands of years? It’s very simple – Disease. In the mid-19th century a worldwide cholera epidemic occurred.
Sewage treatment soon followed and here we are in Cabo San Lucas, dealing with issues 5,500 years old. Thankfully, we now have the knowledge and t e c h n o l o g y t o d e a l w i t h wastewater treatment.
All we need now is the resolve to do the right thing. Let’s have a look at our situation here in Paradise…Have you smelled downtown Cabo recently?
“WHY does my septic tank smell so bad? septic tanks and sewerage systems give off very little odor and are almost never offensive when they are operating properly. They do give off odor caused by
decomposition of protein, but it is barely noticeable and does not have that overpowering, lingering
stench that we know as sewage. So, if it stinks, it’s probably your fault, amigo.
A “Sewage System” differs from a septic tank in that a “Septic Tank” is a passive device where a sewage system aggressively promotes sewage aggressively promotes sewage tank is passive means that it is left to it’s own devices to function properly and depends upon existing anaerobic bacteria to
breakdown the organic wastes introduced.
Under ideal circumstances, where only human organic wastes are put in the septic tank at precise intervals, provided sufficient oxygen and the tank is not full of non-degraded material,
where only human organic wastes, the septic tank will perform very well. This specific set of conditions does not often present itself in Southern Baja, so, not very many septic tanks are working properly.
When kitchen and wash water flow into a septic tank, it will not function at all and a sewage system will operate with less efficiency. These wastes locally known as “gray water” contain fats, oils, greases, sugars,and detergents, all of which are detrimental to healthy bacterial sewage degradation. The bacteria that consume these compounds are not the same bacteria that degrade sewage. Therefore, the fats, oils, etc. cause terrible odors and fouling. Most homeowners think their septic tanks are doing very well because there is no odor, but the reality is that the tank must be pumped out on a regular basis. When the toilet flushes, but flushes slowly, it indicates that the septic tank is more than likely full and in need of pumping. It is often said by residents of Cabo San Lucas, that, “I never pump out my septic tank, everything works great, and there is no smell”. This can only occur when their tank is well sealed and they live at a sufficient elevation so that their raw sewage problems flow down to someone else at a lower elevation (This includes our neighbors in the
It is for this reason that septic tanks are now illegal in Baja California. Many potential clients
find this fact hard to believe, however, it is spelled out very c l e a r l y i n the “LEY DE EQUILIBRIO ECOLOGICO Y PROTECCION DEL AMBIENTE D E L E S T A D O D E B A J A CALIFORNIA SUR”. Don’t join the growing list of those receiving citations and hefty fines for violating this law.
If you sneak in a septic tank because no one will know about it,you will be fined,, and you will be forced to remove it.
A septic system can be updated with a miniature “Sewage System” by installing an approved aerobic wastewater treatment plant. These systems can be added to an existing septic system or completely replace it. Aerobic systems such as the locally manufactured Mighty Mac, will promote the growth of the beneficial aerobic bacteria, while inhibiting the adverse forms of bacteria that cause odors. With
the construction of a new home, The cost is only a little more than a bootlegged septic tank anyway.
You can become part of the sewage solution by complying with basic environmental health standards, local wastewater laws and following the guidelines listed below.
For a sure-fire way to save on your Baja waste treatment, join Secrets of Baja and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is a list documenting the various culprits causing the failure of someone’s
onsite sewage system. Avoiding the below listed compounds and products will save the homeowner
or landlord many headaches and money over the long haul just as surely as introducing these
things to a sewage system will quickly bring about failure.
In the event that your residence, home, condo, trailer, tent, or sleeping bag, is hooked up
directly to a municipal treatment plant, please adhere to these practices also.
1. Do not dispose of fats, greases or cooking oils down the household drains.
2. Do not use a garbage disposal (or at least sparingly), or put coffee grounds, meat, bones,
shrimp shells or other food products that are difficult to biodegrade, down the drain.
3. Do not dispose of bleach, fabric softeners, disinfectants, toilet cleaners, sanitizers, antibacteria
soaps, antibiotics, etc. down the drain.
4. Do not dispose of automotive fluids, such as gas, oil, transmission or brake fluid, greases
or antifreeze down any drains. No paintbrush wash water or thinners should ever be
poured down any drains.
5. Do not dispose of or rinse any containers from pesticides, herbicides or other potentially
toxic substances down any drain.
6. Do not flush any of these things down your toilet: cigarette butts, potato peels, cereal,
disposable diapers, dental floss, mop strings, plastic or rubber products, paper towels,
sanitary wipes, feminine products (particularly, tampons).
7. Minimize water usage. Do not run water continuously while rinsing dishes or
thawing frozen food products. Limit toilet flushes when possible.
8. Run only full loads when using a dishwasher or washing machine and spread out wash days.
(i.e. Do not run six loads on Monday and none the other days) Install a lint trap on your
9. Do not use chemicals, enzymes or yeast to “start up” or “clean” your waste treatment
system. They are unnecessary and may actually harm the system.
10. Use biodegradable products whenever possible.