Dingman Township
                           Pike County, PA        





This book is intended to assist property owners by informing them that there are numerous types of sewage disposal systems available.



How to Choose the Right Sewage Disposal System for Your Property

Table of Contents

1.   Introduction

2.   The Sandmound Myth

3.   So Why Not a Sandmound?

4.   Why are Sandmounds So Common?

5.   Factors to Consider when Choosing a Sewage Disposal System

6.   A Brief Review of Some of the Available Options

7.   Where to get Further Information

8.   Profile Comparisons

9.   Some Final Thoughts


Chris Wood

Sewage Enforcement Officer

Office Hours:  9:00 - 10:30 AM   Monday through Friday

(570)  296 - 9260




How to Choose the Right Sewage Disposal System for Your Property

Dingman Township is not served by central sewage (city sewers). As such, you will need to construct a sewage disposal system on your own property.

It is the purpose of this document to provide the reader with information to assist in making an informed decision about which type of sewage disposal system is best suited for their property. The document was intended for use by the layman, particularly those who have no prior experience with on-lot sewage disposal systems. The reader is advised to seek professional guidance (e.g.. attorney, soil scientist, engineer, etc.) as may be required prior to applying for a sewage permit.


The Sandmound Myth.

It is commonly believed that the elevated sandmound is the only sewage disposal system that may be used in Dingman Township. Nothing could be further from the truth. After sewage testing is performed on the property, the property owner may choose from a menu of sewage options based on the test results. In the past, the menu was quite limited and the elevated sandmound was usually the least expensive, least obtrusive, and best functioning system that was available at that time. Today, the property owner has over 50 types of sewage disposal systems (including variations) to choose from, many of which are quite superior to the sandmound.

Side view cut away of an elevated sandmound



Why Not a Sandmound?

Most people agree that the elevated sandmound is ugly and obtrusive. But the biggest drawback is not as obvious. When the sewage effluent is pumped into an elevated sandmound, it often contains suspended solids. The solids pass through the aggregate and are filtered out by the sand. Under normal circumstances, the sand holds these solids while decomposition takes place. If the suspended solids collect at a rate greater than they can decompose, a semi-permeable bio-mat develops. As the effluent flow is restricted, pressure builds in the mound. Eventually the effluent will push though the point of least resistance and a leak develops. The mound can be repaired, but such repairs are costly and often result in destruction to the property’s lawn and landscaping.

Many of today’s systems employ a filter between the septic tanks and the dosing tank. The filter catches suspended solids before they get to the aggregate. In the event that the accumulation of solids exceeds the rate in which the solids decompose, the filter can be cleaned --- a relatively inexpensive procedure.


Elevated Sandmound with Excessive Bio-mat



Why are Sandmounds So Common?

There are three reasons why elevated sandmounds remain the sewage disposal system that is permitted most often in Dingman Township.

Property owners are not aware that they have other options.

Real estate sales people and housing contractors are more familiar with the elevated sandmound and are more comfortable promoting systems that they are familiar with.

Sewage system designers often promote the elevated sandmound over other systems because they are easier to design.




Factors to Consider when Choosing a Sewage Disposal System

Soil testing is performed on the property in the area where the system is to be sited. After the soil testing is completed, the property owner should examine the available system options and investigate the following points:

Construction Costs – Some system types can cost significantly more than others.

Affect on Property Values – Some systems will greatly increase the resale value of the property. In some cases, more expensive systems will more than pay for themselves in increased property value.

Aesthetics – Some systems are lower to the ground than others. In fact, some systems are totally in the ground.

Space Intensiveness – Some systems are not suitable for small properties or properties where space is at a premium. Others can be fit into smaller spaces maximizing yard space for other uses.

Ease of Operation – There are no “flush it and forget it” systems. However, maintenance requirements can vary greatly between systems.

Reliability – Some systems have a greater failure rate than others.

Efficiency – Some systems do a better job in renovating the effluent.

Government Funding – Some government sponsored housing loans require the use of conventional systems (e.g. sandmounds) and prohibit the use of “alternate systems”. This is not to say that alternate systems are inferior in any way. It’s a matter of semantics. The federal government considers alternate systems as unproven technology. In Pennsylvania, alternate systems include systems approved after the last regulatory change. Unfortunately, federal bureaucrats look at the word … not the meaning.



A Brief Review of Some of the Options Available

The following is a list of just some of the systems available that may be used in place of an elevated sandmound. The information has been kept general as each site must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  • At-Grade Bed
  • This system requires a primary treatment tank (septic or aerobic), a dosing tank and a bed of aggregate placed directly on the ground. The aggregate may either be placed to level the slope or it may be placed with the top of the aggregate parallel to the ground.

    Basic Requirements

    At-Grade              Elevated Sandmound

    Limiting Zone          48” min.                            20” min.

    Average Perk Rate   3 – 180                            3 – 180

    Slope                        12% max.                      12% max.




    • At-Grade Bed with Peat Bio-Filter

    This system is the same as the At-Grade system previously discussed with one major difference. A peat bio-filter is located between the primary treatment tank and the dosing tank. The peat bio-filter is essentially a box filled with specially graded peat moss. The effluent is filtered through the peat moss which provides a very high level of treatment.


    Basic Requirements


                                       At-Grade with Peat Bio-filter         Elevated Sandmound

    Limiting Zone                 20” min.                                    20” min.

    Average Perk Rate         3 – 180                                     3 – 180

    Slope                             12% max.                                12% max.



  • At-Grade Bed with Free Access Gravity Sandfilter
  • Once again, the same as the At-grade system described in #1 (above) only instead of adding a peat bio-filter, the system utilizes a free access gravity sandfilter. A free access gravity sandfilter is constructed using a filter tank (similar in size and construction as a septic tank), gravel, and specially approved sand. It only takes about one hour to construct the filter on the house site. After construction, the property owner is responsible for maintaining the system. Typical maintenance takes about 5 minutes every 3 months.


    Basic Requirements


                                    At-Grade with FAGSF                Elevated Sandmound

    Limiting Zone                      20” min.                                     20” min.

    Average Perk Rate              3 – 180                                      3 – 180

    Slope                                 12% max.                                  12% max.



  • Drip Irrigation
  • There are many ways to design a drip irrigation system. Some employ septic tanks, others aerobic tanks. Some employ sandfilters. Others do not. All systems utilize a hydraulic unit, dosing tank, and drip tubes. The system has three big advantages. First, the drip tubes are completely buried – no unsightly mound! Second, there is very little digging. A slit is cut into the ground, the drip tube is placed in the slit, and then the slit is closed. Trees, rocks, etc. are left in place keeping the natural beauty of the woods. Finally, the tubing may be laid in a myriad of shapes allowing the system to be sited in areas that may otherwise not permit a system to be sited.


    Basic Requirements


                                        Drip Irrigation                    Elevated Sandmound

    Limiting Zone                   20” min.                                      20” min.

    Average Perk Rate         not required                                   3 – 180

    Slope                              25% max.                                    12% max.


  • Individual Residential Spray Irrigation System


  • Individual Residential Spray Irrigation Systems (IRSIS) filter then chlorinate the sewage. The treated sewage is then sprayed onto the natural vegetation. The biggest drawback to the use of this system is that it requires a fairly large property. Spray field size varies based on the amount of usable soil, the slope of the land, and the type of vegetation growing on the site. The minimum spray field would be 10,000 square feet.


    Basic Requirements


                                          IRSIS                               Elevated Sandmound

    Limiting Zone                  10” min.                                  20” min.

    Average Perk Rate       not required                                3 – 180

    Slope                             25% max.                               12% max.




    Where to get further information.


    1. Information about available system types

    Your sewage system designer should be well versed on the types of sewage disposal systems that could be sited on your property. However, unless you bring up the subject, many are not very forthcoming. It is your property. You have the right to have the sewage disposal system that best meets your needs (subject to legal and site considerations). If your sewage system designer tells you that the elevated sandmound is your only option, consult another design firm for a second opinion. You may also contact the Dingman Township Sewage Enforcement Officer. Rare as it may be, there are occasions in which the sandmound is the only available. Still, it never hurts to get a second opinion.


    2. Information about system pricing

    The construction costs of any particular type of sewage disposal system may vary greatly from site to site. For this reason, state law prohibits you from seeking bids until the permit is issued. However, in most cases a sewage system installer can give you an “idea” of what a particular system will run. If you know what type of system you are interested in, talk it over with your system installer. If the price seems more expensive than you expected, you should consider the following:

    Site considerations - Some sites will cause a sewage disposal system to be more expensive. For example, the slope of the land would cause the price of a sandmound to increase. The steeper the land, the more sand and berm that would have to be used. Look into another location or choose a sewage disposal system type that better accommodates the slope.

    Installer fears – Many installers are afraid of sewage disposal system types that they have not previously installed. As a result, they will often “over bid” the job in the hopes that you either hire another installer or choose another disposal system type. If the bid seems too high, consider getting additional bids. Ask your sewage system designer for names of sewage system installers who have installed such systems. The manufacturers of proprietary equipment that is used in some sewage disposal systems (e.g. peat bio-filters and drip systems) often keep lists of installers who have installed their product.


    3. Information about a sewage disposal system’s affect on property values

    The best people to talk to about property values are the real estate sales people. Explain your building plans. Tell them where you would be placing the sewage disposal system (for example: front yard, back yard, side of house). Ask them what the property value of the land and house would be with an elevated sandmound. Then describe the alternatives you are considering and see if there is an appreciable difference.




    Typical Profiles


    Profiles drawn show the components found in a typical system for the system types previously noted.

    Elevated Sandmound


    House, septic tank, dosing tank, mound.




    At-grade with sandfilter

    House, septic tank, sandfilter, dosing tank, at-grade bed



    Individual Residential Spray Irrigation


    House, aerobic tank, sandfilter, chlorine contact/dosing tank spray field

    Note: Spray heads would normally be spaced 100 feet apart. Actual spray field would range from acre to 2 acres for a 3 bed room house.

    Note: Only tank accesses and spray heads are above ground.


    Drip Irrigation


    House, aerobic tank, dosing tank, hydraulic unit, drip field.

    Note: Only tank accesses and hydraulic unit are above ground.  Drip tubing and return lines are completely underground.




    Some Final Thoughts


    New system types are approved annually. If your permit is about to expire, check to see if a better option may be available.

    If you already have a permit for an elevated sandmound, you are not bound to that option. You may, at any time, acquire a permit for another system type.


    Dingman Township Sewage Department

    118 Fisher Lane

    Milford, PA 18337


    (570) 296 – 9260