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Old 05-01-2007, 09:16 AM
Location: Fort Worth, TX
1,379 posts, read 5,655,780 times
Reputation: 344


We are moving out to the "country" on an acre and encountering a property that is well water and aerobic septic.

We are currently looking at building and when we came back to our neighborhood, our neighbor said...oh you are going to have to have a huge pump on that thing to water an acre.

So that got me thinking that I have nooooo idea about water wells and aerobic septic systems.

I was curious if ya'll had some good links or info that can help me out in educating me on water wells and aerobic septic systems.

Thank you very much in advance!!
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Old 05-01-2007, 09:31 AM
Location: Austin, TX
11,395 posts, read 26,171,585 times
Reputation: 5264
Hmmm....don't know any off hand, but I lived for many years on 5 acres with a well/septic system, and can give you a little information -

First off, is there a well already there? It is very important to know if you can get water before you buy. Often, you can be in a conditional clause in a pending property contract related to water supply rate. In some areas, you can be pretty sure of getting water, though, so maybe this is not an issue.

If you are watering a large area, the water supply rate from the well may be important, but this is not so much dependent on the pump size as it is on the well production, I believe. A 10 gpm well would be tough, but 40 gpm would have no problem. My folks place has a large cistern designed into system so that the pump does not have to cycle on/off all the time. Most systems probably have ~100 - 200 gallon tank that provides short-term storage and water pressure to the house/watering system.

As for septic, is the system already built, or will you be building it? The soil has to be examined by an inspector (in most places) several times during construction. I believe it is regulated on two levels (the TCEQ and the county), but you will only have to really deal with the county. By the way, septic systems are not cheap to build.

Don't know about links, but the county would be the authority for most issues and can probably provide a good reference.
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Old 05-01-2007, 06:33 PM
Location: Apple Valley, Ca
437 posts, read 1,970,684 times
Reputation: 149
Well, I don't live in Texas yet but we have 2 acres now with a well. It is a 500ft well. I don't need to water all of the two acres because I wanted my land to be clear. Near the house sure, we have nice trees. I don't think you would need to water the whole acre if you are not going to plant anything.

I would ask questions if you want a pool how that works. I don't have one so I wouldn't know how much water that takes.
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Old 05-01-2007, 11:10 PM
679 posts, read 2,492,621 times
Reputation: 201
What are they testing the soil for?
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Old 05-02-2007, 06:29 AM
Location: Texas Hill Country
2,371 posts, read 8,147,154 times
Reputation: 747
Bound for Texas, where did you buy finally?
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Old 05-02-2007, 07:37 AM
20,725 posts, read 41,174,971 times
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Have your Googled anythng about aerobic septic systems--why do you need a water well---for in-home drinking water or for irrigation of property--makes a difference in how deep and what kind of water and flow rate you will need...

from what I understand about aerobic systems (and I don't have one--we have just looked at homes were they were necessary) these re some points to consider:

First of all--the number of people in your family and your lifestyle makes a difference in size of system you will need for obvious reasons...bigger family--more waste--bigger system...

1) the soil is tested in aerobic system for percolability--its porous nature and composition--how fast water/rain/aerobic discharge that lands on the topsoil will moved down through lower levels of earth and be dispersed and absorbed. The earth itself will be the final cleansing agent for aerobic discharge. They drill core samples and look at the layers they bring up--what kind, how thick, where they are in relation to where your house would be on lot...

Sandy loam soils have good movement---heavy clay soils have poor movement--on an acre, soil can vary from poor to good depending on many variables including prior use of the land...

Trees have a bearing on permiability and how much land a system of certain sizes will require ---sometimes trees must be cut because they restrict the system's effectiveness...sometimes trees themselves do not do well when ground around them is sprayed w/treated aerobic water (like post oaks).
The slope of the land has impact on system's effectiveness as well...also how close you are to other homes---if they are using aerobic system as well...many factors are taken into account--or at least they should be for a well-designed system to function long term the way it should...

In aerobic system, the waste flushes into a tank w/chemicals, and maybe some type of ultraviolet light for serilization--then there is trigger effect and it is sprayed via irrigation sprinklers on the yard--(if it were not moved out of the tank, the tank would have to be larger and possibility of it overfilling exists).

From what I have seen, they usually try to design the system so that the back yard is where the aerobic system is--not so much in the front...

An acre seems like a big piece of land compared to city lots but it is really about the smallest size that an aerobic system can work efficiently...
We have never viewed a home when sprinklers were on--they tell me it does have slight smell to it and they usually try to run sprinklers at night or early morning when people are not around. (If you have ever been in location where they have used treated water for irrigation--like FL where my daughter lives or some golf courses, then it is probably similar)

Most of the homes we have seen that were for sale and had aerobic systems did not have good grass---maybe because of the drought we were in until now and the fact that they did not use other water for irrigation from well or city system....maybe because quite a few of them had trees that shaded the yard (we were looking for lots/houses w/tress vs. without...) I don't know why...but I did notice that patchy yards were more common than not...

Builders who build in that area usually are knowledgeable about that type of system. There are contractors that do nothing but aerobic systems because of where they are located in rural areas outside city treatement facilities...the agencies overseeing have very specific requirements about how large the dispersal field must be depending on the permeability of the soils and other factors...

some times it means people must built a two story house instead of a one story w/larger concrete slab or have to rethink patio/pool area because that would compromise the drainage field---

The reason for all the concern is heightened when people have BOTH a water well for drinking water AND an aerobic septic system....the water table the well draws from must not be contaminated by treated waste...if it is, you would be using tainted water and very possible would get very sick....

That is one reason that people who must have well for drinking water need to drill to deeper depths so that treated water will percolate through soil enough and be dispersed effectively.

People who just use water well for irrigation purposes and have access to some type of city/private water system obviously don't have to worry about cross contaminating drinking water w/treated water...

One development we looked at in Mansfield area is on acre lots and has a private water system since it is outside city limits....the developer prohibited private water wells for irrigation because so much of the ground water has high iron content--when it is used for irrigation and water sprays around sides of homes or concreted areas, iron in water makes red stain on what it lands on and it won't come out...having a half million dollar + house with bands of rust lines did not seem like a cool selling feature...he said he could not figure out a way to compell people to drill to certain water tables for irrigation water so he just made an HOA decision not to allow them at all---

Paying private water system for water to irrigate acre lot seemed really prohibitive to us (and costs will only go up). So when we heard that, we scratched that subdivision off our list....(but it hasn't kept other people from buying/building homes there...)

We looked at The Orchards development on Peden Rd by Eagle Mt. Lake...water table there is fairly shallow because of being close to the lake...one salesman we talked to said someone who bought house from them was having two wells drilled---one for in-home and one for yard so that house pressure/water draw would not be compromised when both systems were were running....might also have to do w/quality/flow of water available at certain depths...The Orchards also requires aerobic system...

There have been problems at Lake Granbury SW from FTW because older developments with septic systems that were not originally designed to be for permanent residences --just more like weekend homes--are now compromising their septic fields---
water that is probably NOT treated by aerobic system has gotten into lake and caused contamination in certain areas...city/county is concerned that if it gets worse, there will be real problem ---- can effect where people ski, fish, have homes built ...so they are considering upgrading ordinances...which would be expensive proposition--many lots are not really large enough in themselves to have effective aerobic system---woud have to pool together and create mini-septic treatment plant...expensive....a real Catch-22 situation
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Old 05-02-2007, 08:38 AM
Location: Austin, TX
11,395 posts, read 26,171,585 times
Reputation: 5264
I am going to try to paraphrase loves2read .

You can probably put in septic and a well without a problem, it just will take some planning and cost some money.

Check to make sure that at least one or two neighbors have done this - that means the soil must be okay and that there is water within a reasonable distance down.
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Old 05-02-2007, 12:39 PM
20,725 posts, read 41,174,971 times
Reputation: 10229
TRAINWRECK--going by what the neighbors' have and expecting to have the same thing is not how to approach this---
if the house exists and the well and septic are in place they were hopefully done correctly and there are no problems...

If GUINGIRL is building they need to address the issues of their land, their house design, their budget, and what the buiding regulations are...
Older homes were built under old guidelines---current times may have upgraded, more environmentally aware guidelines which may call for more expensive methods...

Just becaue your neighbor found good water at certain depth, does not automatically mean you will if you are drilling three acres away---probably will be ok--but no guarantees....finding water can be just as difficult as finding oil or gas when you drill....

The neighbor just might have been referring to how much MORE water it will take to water an acre landscape vs a normal city lot....which is true...which is why aerobic systems have a positive offset...some people put in an acre of St. Augustine in a drought prone location because they like a green yard ---that may not be the best landscape for an aerobic system to handle or even water wells since water is becoming a depleting resource...

She can Google and get lots of info--she can call the city or county planning/zoning boards--they will have information for her as well or can point her in general direction
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Old 05-02-2007, 01:59 PM
Location: Austin, TX
11,395 posts, read 26,171,585 times
Reputation: 5264
Oh, I am not saying that you will get the same results as the neighbor, but if the neighbor COULDN'T put in a septic system due to the soil or someting, then I would worry...or if the neighbor had to drill 1500' to get 10 gpm, you might worry.

Beyond if you can or can't technically put in a well and septic, there is the planning, inspections, cost, etc., that you will need to hire a professional engineer to design.
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