Environmental Finance Center at Sac State

Septic and Cesspool Resources

Septic systems collect, treat, and release wastewater from bathrooms, showers, kitchen drains and laundry within homes and businesses. Such systems are placed underground where solids are settled out in a tank and remaining materials are filtered through surrounding soils. Septic systems are also referred to as decentralized wastewater treatment systems and onsite wastewater treatment systems. Septic system can be prone to fail due to poor design, installation, and maintenance practices, resulting in detrimental impacts to human health and the environment. Cesspools are typically concrete- or stone-lined pits to which household wastewater is discharged without treatment. Installation of new cesspools is no longer allowed, although thousands exist due to legacy use. Cesspools—no matter their condition—threaten human health and the environment due to the lack of treatment. The EFC at Sacramento State has compiled several resources related to addressing failing septic systems and cesspools: