We’re having sewage adventures at my house today. Frustrating, extremely expensive sewage adventures. That is not the point of my post, but as long as I’m shelling out I’m going to milk it for all the sympathy I can get.
So while the backhoe was digging up my yard to find where exactly the sewage lines run, they uncovered two lidded terracotta tanks about 5’ underground. The tanks contained dirty water. The workmen said they were ancient illicit septic tanks and hurriedly covered them back up so that the county inspector wouldn’t see them and add a few more thousand in removal fees to our bill. I got this info second-hand from my husband who was present at the time.
I’m questioning whether these are septic tanks or water cisterns. I was hoping someone here would have a better base knowledge of the evolution of plumbing and sewage systems.
The 120yr old house I grew up in had a spot out back where the outhouse used to be, as evidenced by the abrupt sidewalk termination flanked by two rosebushes. There were also two capped off water cisterns closer to the house that fit the description of the tanks in my yard.
My current house was built in 1810. The tanks in question are about 20yds, diagonally, from the house, and are piped back toward the house. I know from the previous owners as well as the neighbors that the sewage from the houses on this street used to run through pipes to a stream in the back yard, collecting in what is now a pond but was once an open cesspool. I am grateful for modern municipal sewage treatment! So if they had this easy, inexpensive (disgusting) system, why the septic tanks? Unless they had them in between using the cesspool and getting municipal sewage.
I want them to be cisterns because the county won’t make me dig up cisterns. Not that they will ever know about them at all, mwa ha ha ha! So - any historical sewage experts (if I can’t find them one here, I can’t find one anywhere) around want to back me up?