Sand Filter: Buried
DOs and DON'Ts
  • learn the location of your septic tank and drainfield.  Keep a sketch of it handy with your
    maintenance record for service visits.
  • have your septic system  inspected annually and pumped out regularly by a licensed
  • keep your septic tank cover  accessible for inspections and pumpings.  Install risers if
  • call a professional whenever you experience problems with your  system, or if there are any
    signs of system failure.
  • keep a detailed record of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other
    maintenance activities.
  • conserve water to avoid overloading the system.  Be sure to repair any leaky faucets or
  • divert other sources of water,  like roof drains, house footing drains, and sump pumps, away
    from the septic system.  Excessive water keeps the soil in the drainfield from naturally
    cleansing the wastewater.

  • go down into a septic tank.  Toxic gases are produced by the natural treatment processes
    in septic tanks and can kill in minutes.  Extreme care should be taken when inspecting a
    septic tank, even when just looking in.
  • allow anyone to drive or park over any part of the system.
  • plant anything over or near the drainfield except grass.  Roots from nearby trees or shrubs
    may clog and damage the drain lines.
  • dig in your drainfield or build anything over it, and don’t cover the drainfield with a hard
    surface such as concrete or asphalt.  The area over the drainfield should have only a grass
    cover.  The grass cover will not only prevent erosion, but will help remove excess water.
  • make or allow repairs to your septic system without obtaining the required health
    department permit.  Use professional licensed septic  contractors when needed.
  • use septic tank additives.  These products usually do not help and some may even be
    harmful to your system.
  • use your toilet as a trash can or poison your septic system and the groundwater by pouring
    harmful chemicals and cleansers down the drain.  Harsh chemicals can kill the beneficial
    bacteria that treat your wastewater.
  • allow backwash from home water softeners to enter the septic system.
Don’t plant anything over or near the drainfield
of your septic system except grass.  
Roots from nearby trees or shrubs may clog
and damage the drain lines.
Do not flush the following items! These items can quickly
fill your unit with solids that cannot be treated, and will require that you contact a
licensed contractor to pump the system more frequently.
  • coffee grinds
  • dental floss
  • disposable diapers
  • kitty litter
  • sanitary napkins
  • tampons
  • cigarette butts
  • condoms
  • fat, grease or oil
  • paper towels
Hazardous chemicals, such as:
  • paints
  • varnishes
  • thinners
  • waste oils
  • photographic solutions
  • pesticides
A buried sand filter is composed of alternate layers of rock, pea gravel, and filter media
(a type of sand) which biologically and physically filter the septic tank discharge. The
filtered liquid can then be discharged to a suitable site. This system does not use the soil
to absorb the discharge from the tank.

  1. Usually first choice of alternative systems if property has sufficient slope to gravity
  2. Low maintenance, simply pump septic tank every 2-5 years
  3. Does not depend upon soil to absorb septic tank effluent
  1. Discharge site is approximately 5 to 7 feet below ground level; needs a lift station if
    cannot gravity drain
  2. If installed in a high water table, must be fully lined, but still may have excessive
    water being discharged
  3. Cannot have deep-rooted plants or construction over the filter

Food Safety
Hand Washing
Safe Food

Aerobic System
Holding Tank
Sand Filters:
Seepage System
Waste Stabilation
Pond / Lagoon

Lead Poisoning Act
Lyme Disease
When choosing which type of system to use, certain factors must be considered so that the system
selected will best serve the individual's needs:
  1. Type of soil on the property
  2. Topography (lay of the land)
  3. Lot size; available property for the installation
  4. Surrounding features - wells (both yours and the neighbors'), water lines,  property lines,
    driveways, etc.

If you have any questions concerning this guide or if you wish to apply for a permit to
install one of the above private sewage disposal systems, please feel free to contact:

Marion County Health Department
Division of Environmental Health
118 Cross Creek Boulevard
Salem, Illinois  62881

Telephone: 618-548-3878
Fax:  618-548-3866