The DR septic “system”

Now, back in the states we had a septic system, so when we learned that this is the sanitation means for the house we rent in the DR, we were encouraged.  You see, we are warned not to swim in the rivers downstream of town because a great deal of the refuse from town finds its way (untreated) into the creeks that feed the river.  There is no government treatment facility and no enforcement regarding sanitation practices here.

So when our sinks and toilets started draining slowly, we called our landlord.  In response, he sent a guy right over, who then proceeded to open the top of the septic tank and use a borrowed bucket to start bailing out the tank – by hand!  He would then take the dirty water and spread it along the back fence of our property to be absorbed into the dirt.  The smell lasted until the next good rain… This wasn’t quite the solution we had in mind, but after a couple hours of this he let us know that our sinks should drain well again until the following Monday when they could implement a more permanent fix.  Um, great.

You see the septic tanks here don’t have a drain field like we use in the states, in fact this one doesn’t have a good drain at all.  Usually there is a 35 foot deep hole that is dug that is called a ‘dry pit’, and the overflow goes in there to be absorbed down deep.  But these are expensive to build, and so lacking that the overflow often goes into what is basically a storm water drain that eventually finds its way to, you guessed it, the river.  We know now that basically our entire neighborhood is connected to this storm water drain system.  Hmmm, welcome to life in the third world…


About harleymc31

My wife Abby and I are missionaries in the Dominican Republic, working as a High School Math and Science teachers at Doulos Discovery School. We are joined by our three boys, aged 9, 7, and 5 who attend the same school and bring us untold joy every day.
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