The trouble with poo

The good news is, if I ever get the opportunity to meet Dooce (Heather Armstrong), we’ll have something in common to discuss. Of course, since it revolves around residential poo removal systems, it’ll either be really disturbing or totally hysterical. Like, two seconds from vomiting hysterical.

So, you basically change the word “sewer” to the word “septic” and the story’s eerily similar. As far as I know, there’s no bath towel involved on our end, but there certainly is stench and an unavoidable cash outlay somewhere near the cost of a cheap new car. See, we’ve had trouble with our septic ever since we moved here. At first it was just some wet spots, not really smelly, but a little rank. As the years passed, it came & went and every now & then our neighbor who is AMAZINGLY COMPETENT YARD AND MAINTENANCE MAN WHO CAN’T BELIEVE HE HAS TO LIVE NEXT TO WHITE TRASH YARD PEOPLE LIKE US would tell us there was some septic problem and we’d call somebody to pump the tank. It’s a 3 bedroom house. We have 5 people living here. Many of those years, only 2-3 of those people actually used the toilets, so you can’t count them. We shouldn’t have to pump the tank every year. Then one year, we had the field jetted, hoping that would help. But, no. It got worse every year and nothing seemed to help. Seriously – we’ve had 4 different septic companies out at least once a year since 2000. Why no one has been able to solve this problem is incomprehensible to me.

Cut to last week. Someone called the county on us. The Health Department guy shows up at the door saying that, indeed, our field is failing & it has to be fixed NOW. Yay. Keep in mind now that Steve is closing up his law office at the end of this month and will be student teaching, so we are looking at no income until next fall. NEXT FALL, Y’ALL. Steve gets ahold of this highly recommended septic fellow who did some work with removing the sump outflow so it wasn’t bleeding into the septic line and he comes out and looks at everything. Doesn’t look good. He can see that there are 3 lines up near the house that seem to not be working and then 2 or 3 more lines down by our fence line – these are the ones that are bubbling up. (Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds) It looks to him like the lines up by the house are totally sludged up – probably because a previous owner (like a way long time ago) didn’t pump the tank for 10-15 years and now the lines and the surrounding soil are totally full of sludge & grease & ew and they’ll probably be unusable even if he could get them cleaned out. We’ll probably have to put in several new lines, he says, but he’ll have to go to the county & get a permit. Off he goes.

On Monday, Steve calls and says, “Do you want the bad news or the worse news??” Which…..awesome. How do you answer that? JUST TELL ME. When Septic Man went to the county & looked at the septic on file, turns out the fields at the lower part of our yard aren’t on there. Which means they’re ILLEGAL. Turns out Septic Man is probably right – the fields up near the house stopped working right and rather than do what they’re supposed to do, the owners just threw in some new lines. Apparently, any septic lines are supposed to be no closer than 75 feet from a well. These?? Are only about 20 feet from our neighbor’s well. So there’s septic bubbling up 20 feet from their well. I’m surprised they haven’t burned down our house while we sleep. This all means that those illegal lines need to be immediately dug up & shut down. And that we need to find somewhere else in the yard to put new lines. Taking into account neighbor #1’s well which is about 20 feet from our property and neighbor #2’s well which is 11 feet from our property, we have a very small area in which we can work. And since most of that area is now filled with lines that are of no use, we’re in a tight spot. What it looks like is the remainder of our fall will be spent having our entire backyard dug up – including possibly my garden, the swingset and part of the deck – and turned into a poo field. I cannot WAIT.

In the meantime, I get to figure out how to keep a family of 5 clean, laundered and eliminated without hardly using water. Do you know how hard it is to do only one load of laundry a day? Especially when Steven is wetting a bed every 2nd or 3rd night. (Yes, I said “a” bed. Because it’s not always his. Today it was ours) The best part? Was when Steve asked Septic Man what this was gonna cost. Just pulling a number out of thin air, he asks, “Is it gonna be more than, like, $10,000?” The answer?? “I don’t think so. I hope not.” Holy Mother of God. I just keep repeating, “God will take care of us. God will tak care of us. God will take care of us.” Cause it’s not like we can say, “Oh, we can’t afford that. Never mind.” We have no choice. And we’ll have nothing really to show for it. Just a big underground poo cave. Why does it cost so much? Boo. Steve used to joke that we’d never move. We’d just have a series of unfortunate fires. It’s looking darn good right about now.