In using this system, there are two things to bear in mind. The action that goes on within a septic tank will only dissolve paper of tissue grade. Therefore, old bandages, pieces of absorbent cotton, and the like should go into the incinerator. Otherwise, they will clog the system and a thorough cleaning will be imperative. Secondly, the leaders which care for the water from the eaves cannot be connected to it, as entirely too much water would flow into the tank during storms.
However, there are several ways of taking care of the water shed by roofs during heavy or protracted rains. In some localities where the supply of water is excessively hard or is so meager that it is not sufficient for all household purposes, pipes from the eaves are connected with an underground cistern, thus conserving the prized rain water. Otherwise, the common practice is simply to equip leaders or down-spouts with “quarter-bend” sections at the lower ends to keep water away from the foundation. This is a cheap and easy way; but if the land does not slope away from the house enough so that this water drains rapidly, pools and mud puddles are the result. Worse still, water may filter through foundation walls and leave a small lake in the cellar after every heavy rain. The disadvantages of the latter are obvious.
The remedy is a dry well for each down-spout. They are simple and inexpensive, being small pits dug six to ten feet away from foundation walls and reaching below the frost line. They are filled to a depth of about two feet with broken stone, fragments of brick, or like material and connected with the down-spouts by glazed tile pipes. A cover of roofing paper is added and the earth then replaced. The rain water is thus absorbed below ground, instead of being left to wear small gullies into an otherwise well-kept lawn.
Sometimes the contour of land about the house is such that it resembles a relief map of the Finger Lake country after each heavy rain or spring freshet. Subsurface drainage is the answer. In other words, a line of land tile like the fields of the septic tank. Through it this mislocated water may drain into a dry well, open ditch, or the gutter along the highway.
Several years ago, highway improvement presented us with such a problem. The road gang put in a culvert through which flowed the drainage from a hill on the opposite side of the road. There was no redress from the Town Fathers. Technically ours was farm land and the established custom was that highway water could wander as it would and drain as natural slope dictated. It was be flooded or do something. A subsurface drain, some fifty feet long and connected with the gutter of an intersecting road, took care of the lawn. For the rest of the water to which we were made heir by the same fit of highway betterment, two local odd-job specialists dug an open trench across a little-used field. It terminated at an old subsurface drainage line constructed years ago when some one, who had the gift, brought forth fine crops of corn, potatoes, and beans there.