Strategies for Rural Development in Areas with Limited Public Infrastructure: Alternative Septic Systems


The cost of septic system installation will depend upon the mobilization costs for construction equipment, system components, site conditions (whether a mound or subsurface system is constructed), and local availability of materials.  

Clustered system costs are unique to each site, and there is limited  information available for cost comparisons.  A large subdivision developer may have to work with a locally based engineer to determine the “magic number” where the economics favor building a clustered system versus traditional onsite systems, but it will probably be in the range of 10 to 25 lots depending on site conditions.  

Two University of Rhode Island researchers published a cost comparison paper in 1998 entitled, “Shared Septic Systems: A shared sand filter and drain field was the least expensive solution for a difficult site.” In this paper, individual onsite systems requiring pre-treatment were estimated to cost approximately $100,000 to $120,000 for ten homes. For a clustered system using the same pre-treatment technology, the cost would have been $75,000 to $85,000 for the same ten homes. Operation and maintenance costs for the clustered system were estimated to be approximately $150-200 per year, comparable to onsite system estimates. Construction and mobilization costs are significantly higher now than they were in 1998, but it is reasonable to assume that the same relative cost savings for the clustered system would apply today.

Individual drilled wells in Maine generally cost in the range of $3000 to $7,000.


Related Work Plan Components

Workgroup Contacts

In Aroostook County: Jay Kamm, Ken Murchison, Joella Theriault

In Washington County: Judy East