Functional Elements of System Types

The following functional elements apply to the system types described above: individual on-lot systems, cluster systems, satellite systems, and centralized systems. The scale of the system determines the distance, and infrastructure needs, between collection and discharge. The functional elements of a typical sanitation [wastewater treatment] system is described below:
  • Collection. For centralized systems, collection pertains to the sewers and pumping stations that bring wastewater to a single point. For decentralized systems, a variety of technologies may be employed, such as septic systems and various pit technologies, including pit latrines and cesspools; while not optimal and often problematic, they are widely used, especially in developing regions.
  • Collection/treatment. For individual on-lot systems, the technologies of collecting, storing, and sometimes treating the products occur on site. Treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and usually does not require added energy. However, treated waste products may require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal.
  • Conveyance to treatment. For more modern centralized systems pipelines and pumping facilities that carry collected wastewater to the treatment facility are typically employed. For decentralized systems that include off-site treatment, vehicular transport may be used. Conveyance, as with most other components, depends on the human and environmental context of the system. What is possible and safe dictates means and method.
  • Treatment. The facility and its associated processes for treating waste and generating effluent.
  • Conveyance of treated water. Pipelines and pumping facilities that carry the effluent to the discharge or reuse location if not co-located.
  • Discharge. Subsurface irrigation, rapid infiltration, reuse, or discharge to surface water bodies.