By the sound of a flushing toilet. As we all know in rural France this unfortunately means installing a septic tank and associated drainage soak away for the run off. This I can tell you is hard work. Even with the aid of a man with a digger raking out 12 tonnes of gravel is not easy. If fact its been a bit of a epic saga all round. First off you have a survey done, a man comes along and does a soak test of the ground and then sends you a report. In our case we waited a month just to get the man to come because they were so busy (this is because, of new regulations, many fosse septics have to be replaced by 2012). You then submit this to the local Maire who sends it to Veolia. They approve it, and send the plans back with strict instructions to inform your Maire not less than 10 days before you start work. Simple! This bit is tedious but fine. Now you have to get someone to dig it. At this point you will be tempted to hire a digger and do the job yourself. My advice would be not to. If like us you need 48 metres of trench 600mm deep and 500mm wide then its a lot of trench. If you have tight spaces to manoeuvre you will probably knock something over or turn the digger over, especially if the ground is as hard a dry as it has been this year. On the other hand getting in an enterprise is expensive. The best root is to find a neighbour with a digger and form some sort of reciprocal arrangement. This is what we did and in the end worked very well. I say in the end because most arrangements like this usually involve "a mate" and "mates" work in their own good time. In usual French style the "Ami" would appear probably at the beginning of April...then beginning of May...late May....June at the latest...July definitely! Then when all hope had failed low and behold middle of August he appears. One day later we have to work done, next day its inspected and passed and bingo we have a fosse. Well no, cause there are a few other bits to a fosse, like air vents that need to go in the roof and in our case a pumping station. We got the pumping station off the net half the price as the local builders merchant and fortunately the guy who did our roof is also a neighbour and came at really short notice to fit the roof vent when I chickened out!! (shed roofs are one thing, big houses are a bit different. Any way its done, it works and I for one am very happy not to have to empty a chemical toilet three times a week. This last week my sister and family came over to help (next post I'll cover all their hard work and assistance) but 8 people and one chemical toilet really is no fun especially if like me your head of sanitation. In fact as Leslie Nielson said its "Like being in charge of sanitation at a Haitian jail".
That's my lovely sister and her husband in the background. Don't worry Joanne, next time you come over I'll have a kitchen sink!
And thanks to our local roofer. It was a pleasure to watch him at work.
And the pumping station or "station de relevage" from www.station-de-relevage.com. Good value, well made and excellent service. Ours was the sanidrain model at €607 as I said over €1200 at the local builders!
If any sad people are wondering why there are two pipes its because one, the top one is the vent for the fosse and the pumping station, the other lower one being grey water.