RV Park Septic System CostAnthony Day
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You are converting some property into an RV Park, but you know that decision means installing a septic system. What is the cost of an RV Park Septic System?
Opening an RV park on your back forty is more than just grading out some slots and graveling a driveway. The same thing could be said of a septic system in that it is more than just digging a hole in the ground and connecting a water hose. While not every RV park has to have an onsite septic system, many states do require it. Knowing your specific state's regulations is vital in estimating the costs involved. The last thing you want to do is get your property ready, and advertise for campers, only to find out that you have to spend more money installing a way to treat wastewater.
The cost for a septic system can vary from $20,000 - $40,000. The system includes a septic tank, a drain field, and plumbing. The waste empties into the septic tank filled with chemicals to break down toxins and is then transferred to the drain field before moving back into the water table.
Many states have stepped up enforcement of wastewater management as environmental pressures and EPA regulations continue to tighten. RV parks have been subject to rigorous attention, with the scarcity of reliable drinking water becoming a more valuable resource. Abuse by RV owners and the dumping of toxic chemicals that eventually leach into the groundwater are common issues for RV park systems. You should be prepared to follow both state and EPA regulations and have your campground soil samples tested regularly.
So, what is an RV park septic system, and how does it work? While the cost will vary on the size and the equipment involved, it is essential to know this information before opening the gates to your Shady Acres campground.
What is An RV Septic System, and How Does it Work?
Most campgrounds have a conventional septic system that includes an underground septic tank, a drain field filled with perforated tubing buried in gravel, and adequate plumbing to connect the two.
The Septic Tank
A septic tank is an underground, airtight tank made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic buried underground. The tank serves as a collection area for the solid waste material that is pumped in. this solid form of waste settles in the bottom of the tank forming a sludge. The waste liquids (grease, oil, and urine) float toward the top, forming scum. The tank is filled with bacteria that help liquefy the waste so that it can be pumped into a drain field for further purification.
The size of the septic tank that your RV needs depend on how many RVs will be using your site daily. Even though bacteria work on the sludge element of waste deposited into the tank, it takes time for the chemicals to break down. You should plan on a tank size that will allow the bacteria enough time to liquefy the waste. If more than a few RVs are dumping their waste matter into the tank, the bacteria will need time to get moving. You should consult with your local building inspector or EPA engineer to ensure that this size is adequate for your planning. According to Envirodesignproducts.com, a minimum is one dump station for every 100 campsites.
A drain field is usually made of perforated plastic pipes laid in trenches and then covered with gravel. The purpose is to remove pathogens before the purified wastewater is returned to the area water table. Gravel acts as a cleansing agent, allowing the water to pass through while trapping larger particles that might harm humans if consumed.
Regular drain field inspection should be done periodically to ensure that the tubing and gravel are working correctly. A pool of water or dampness around the septic tank location can indicate a problem, and you should call a professional out for an inspection.
Some septic systems have the added benefit of a pump and purification system between the tank and the drain field. This added step enhances the system's ability to ensure there is little to no contamination. There are times when the pump’s sole purpose is to ensure that the liquid of the tank will be deposited in a drain field if the drain field cannot be placed close to the waste disposal sight.
Some advanced systems utilize the effects of sunlight and UV rays to help purify wastewater further.
What Needs To be Considered in the Development of an RV Septic Tank?
Many other considerations must be effectively planned for when considering installing an RV septic system.
Choose a Correct Site With a Sloped Concrete Pad
There may be regulations regarding where you can put a septic tank. A local engineer can advise you where to place the septic system and drain field. Initially, your dumping station needs to be away from camping or public areas where people will congregate. (Remember, the smell of emptying waste products can be overwhelming).
A sloped concrete pad will help prevent extraneous waste from contaminating the ground. You should plan on a large concrete pad area that is sizeable enough to handle large RVs, boats, and other vehicles that might have bathroom facilities.
Make Sure the Site has a Running Water Source.
A running water source will help keep the station clean. It should be labeled as not appropriate for drinking, along with other safety warnings as dictated by your local regulations.
Unfortunately, there are RV owners who don’t give a flip about breaking the law. You need the correct hoses and caps to prevent the site from being tampered with. Adequate ventilation is also necessary to prevent the possibility of any escaping methane gases from igniting.
Speaking of security, you should have signposting against illegal dumping. Many RV owners have security cameras installed so that should they need to, they can monitor how their dumping stations are being used and that RV owners follow all guidelines.
This precaution is essential in a world where everyone wants to sue everyone else. Ensure your entire campground, including the septic system, is covered with adequate property and liability insurance. Be sure to post signage indicating that you are not responsible for any damage to any RV.
Test The Soil
Most septic tank installations will require the soils around your campground to be tested periodically to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Be prepared to have the soil tested before beginning your installation. While it can be aggravating to involve county officials or EPA regulators, the fines and penalties of a faulty system and the costs for corrective measures are more than anyone should want to tackle.
What Are The Benefits of An Effective Septic System?
Many campground owners have found benefits to installing an adequate septic system.
Cleanliness of Facility
An adequate septic system can help ensure your campground facility stays clean and family-friendly. While good campgrounds offer many amenities, basic sanitation for recreational vehicles is a core to running a quality operation where campers return again and again.
Convenience for Guests
Many RV campgrounds allow residents or overnight campers to use the dumping station. While you should include enough profit in your daily charge to accommodate the expense of waste dumping, many RV owners appreciate knowing of a place where they can dump.
Not every campground charges for dumping, but some do. This option can provide an additional source of revenue and defray expenses that a septic system can incur. If your septic tank has access to the local municipality's sewer lines, this ability can help make the system affordable in the long run.
Do RV Park Septic Systems Require Maintenance?
Yes, unfortunately, even the best septic systems need regular maintenance. Here are some things to be mindful of as you seek to help your system last for as long as possible.
- Do not position the septic tank directly below the concrete pad - the weight of an RV can cause damage to the septic tank, so you do not want to drive anything right on top of the place where you buried your tank.
- A regular inspection of the tank's integrity should be done every few weeks.
- Add biological additives to help the bacteria work as efficiently as possible.
- Do not plant trees or put your septic system in a place where the complicated root system of trees or decorative shrubs can break down the integrity of the tank. If you don’t like the eyesore, your dumping station appears to be, put a fence on it that will at least block it off from the rest of the campground.
- You should plan on pumping out and cleaning your septic tank every few years. Do not use anti-bacterial cleaners, as they kill the friendly bacteria most septic tanks need. A professional service can come out to do the process.
- Do not compact soil or plant anything on top of your drain field. The drain field needs air to breathe, so no paving or building close to the septic tank!