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A cesspit, or cesspool, is a pit, conservancy tank, or covered cistern, which can be used for sewage or refuse.
In many rural communities, sometimes the builder or installer of a cesspit will illegally breach the floor of the pit after the final inspection by building inspectors so as to allow liquid from the tank to escape into the ground. Such incidents can give rise to locally acute pollution and may contaminate the drinking water supplies of others. Using a cesspit in such a condition constitutes a criminal offence in the UK.
In the US, a cesspool is a dry well for the disposal of sewage. Liquids leach out promptly if soil conditions allow. Some solids decay and are leached out after some time. Some solids accumulate, eventually blocking the escape of liquids, causing the familiar cesspool failure or overflow. Cesspools are discouraged, or are banned by local plumbing codes, and instead connections to municipal sewage systems or septic systems are encouraged or required.
The typical American urbanite in the 1870s relied on the rural solution of individual well and outhouse (privy) or cesspool. Baltimore in the 1880s smelled "like a billion polecats," according to H. L. Mencken, and a Chicagoan said in his city "the stink is enough to knock you down." Improvement was slow, and large cities of the East and South depended to the end of the century mainly on drainage through open gutters. Pollution of water supplies by sewage as well as dumping of industrial waste accounted in large measures for the public health records and staggering mortality rates of the period. (The National Experience)
In Huntington, New York, most households still use cesspools for waste drainage. There has been a chronic occurrence of cesspool collapses in this area. Since 1998, four cases of cesspools collapsing and sucking in human residents that were standing over them have been reported, injuring a total of five people, killing one in 2001  and another in 2007.
Cesspools are regulated in the U.S. if they serve more than 20 people.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cesspit". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|