What do septic service trucks do with their load of s*#t?

… and has the answer changed over time? Once upon a time, did they just pump out their load into open ravines / water? Are there differences among different countries? I can’t imagine that they discharge into some city’s public sewage system.

Let’s see who here knows their shit.

Mike Rowe did a “Dirty Jobs” episode. They take it to a big concrete “apron” and release it. Stinks to high heaven. But as the sun evaporates off the water, far fewer solids are left. IIRC they bulldoze the remnants into a small pit and it doesn’t smell bad.

Why not, as long as they pay for it? All they need is a metering station between their outflow and the city’s sytem, so that the city knows how much to charge them.

Obviously, it has to be treated per environmental regulations. lobotomyboy, are you sure you didn’t fall asleep and miss part of that episode? :stuck_out_tongue:

No, he is remembering correctly, although I seem to recall that they may have sold the dried solids to a fertilizer company.

I can confirm that his description of the show was accurate. I assumed the remaining solid waste would be used in some useful way (fertilizer?), but I don’t believe they talked about that.

ETA: Ok, I guess they did, thanks Mirror Image egamI rorriM

I saw that episode as well, but don’t remember the fertilizer part. I wonder if it was Milorginite based out of Milwaukee (they make fertilizer out of poo) which is about 90 minutes away from Madison where that episode was filmed IIRC.

I thought human feces was too dangerous ( diseases etc) to be used a fertilizer.

No, once it’s been treated, dried, etc., it’s not. Our hay supplier is a licenced “waste disposal site” and he uses the dried stuff on his hay fields every year. He gets more growings and cuttings from his fields, plus he dosn’t have to pay huge prices for fertilizer. In fact, the city is paying him to take it----he had to get a licence from them and the state of WV to accept treated waste. The hay is perfectly safe, no nasty things growing in it, etc.

If you want info on it being used to fertilize crops humans use, google “humanure” and see what’s out there.

Waste is commonly used to make fertilizer. Check out NYOFCO (New York Organic Fertilizer Company) in the Bronx:


Yeah, I think the issue is that you shouldn’t use it for fertilizer on a crop destined for human consumption, as BaneSidhe mentions—we don’t eat hay. Cow or horse manure in gardens and fields for our crops is fine, of course. With all the produce from other countries that you find in stores, let’s hope they follow the same rules.

They used to be able to spread it on fields that were not to be used for food production for a year or two. Now they are required to use a sewage treatment plant instead. The treatment facility is a much better requirement by far.

Composted human waste from a treatment plant has heavy metals in it, so they have to limit how much of it is dumped per acre.

Tangent question: What is the customary charge for pumping out a septic tank?

A shitload.

It has also been shipped to the middle of nowhere to fertilize nothing:


For several years, the sludge from NYC was shipped via boxcar to a ranch near Sierra Blanca* in west Texas, where it was simply spread over the desert floor. The End.

(*For those of you who have travelled the interminable I-10 from El Paso to the east, Sierra Blanca is where the border patrol has their roadblock.)

OK…civil/environmental engineer here.

Here in New England, septage is generally required to be transported to a wastewater treatment plant for treatment. Yes, they are charged a fee for disposal.

You need special permits to convert septage/sewage to fertilizer. The regulations for this are generally pretty strict (and have been getting stricter), because a lot goes down the drain other than human waste (e.g. household cleaners, excreted prescription drugs, etc.). For the treatment plants, which pick up commercial and industrial flows, many other contaminants can end up in there as well. Hazardous waste disposal is strictly prohibited from being disposed of in sewers, but this is sometimes difficult to enforce, and contaminants can cause problems even at low concentrations. (One focus in recent years has been mercury waste from dentist offices.) For this reason, the residual solids (referred to as sludge) are generally either disposed of in lined landfills or incinerated. If the waste is incinerated, the stacks must have scrubbers, and resultant ash is disposed of in lined landfills.

About $200-$300.

I took a tour of a sewage treatment plant as part of a college class. Along with the stuff piped in they also had a tank for what they called scavenger waste which was from cesspool pumpouts. It was fed into the waste stream, but the employees said that sometimes that waste causes a ‘upset’ in the biological system that they use to breakdown the sewage. After treatment the waste is piped IIRC 3 miles into the ocean.

I laughed.

My apologies then, lobotomyboy. I don’t believe we do that here, but looks like it’s done elsewhere. :slight_smile:

ETA: In my original post, I was thinking along the lines of ** robby **'s post. Maybe I was the one who was asleep during environmental engineering class!

If cow shit is used to fertilize crops for human consumption, I think it’s only fair that human shit is used to fertilize crops for bovine consumption.