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  1. #1

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    Septic and Water Softener

    I am thinking about setting a home darkroom (maybe 3 or 4 rolls per weeK). First question is - I have a septic system and a well. How safe is pouring these chemicals into the septic tank? What about into the water table. Second, I have a water softener system that uses rock salt and potassium carbonate to treat the water. Will this system affect the development process? What about for the printing process?

    New here - if covered already - sorry.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    jp80874's Avatar
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    sohara 70,

    Not to be sorry. Welcome aboard. We were all new here at one time. The subject has been covered several times. Search the database and see many threads on the subject.

    I have well, septic and water softener. All my B&W chemicals mix and go down the drain except the fixer. I let several gallons of fixer stand in a five gallon bucket with lid from Home Depot. Inside the bucket with the fix is a bag of plain steel wool, not the product SOS with soap. After a week or so the silver moves to the steel wool and that glob later goes out with the garbage. “Sophisticated” chemistry explanations brought to you by a retired software salesman. I put the water on the flowers.

    Become a subscriber and use the extra features. Enjoy and help the next person.

    John Powers

  3. #3
    jeroldharter's Avatar
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    I have a Kinetico water softener and no problems. I mix all of my chemicals with the soft water. At former house, I had a mound septic system and no problems either.
    Jerold Harter MD

  4. #4
    jp80874's Avatar
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    Something to watch out for, small specks in the developing rinse water. Your water softener and pipes may be better than mine. Your water may be better than mine.

    I installed a separate "under sink" water filter made by Omnifilter (purchased at Home Depot) that uses a 2 or 3 micron filter insert. Even so occasionally there were minute specks in the film developing wash water. I now use a final rinse of a gallon of distilled water and have had no further problems.

    John Powers

  5. #5
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Sohara 70 -

    The short answer is no and no.

    If you compare the volume of photo chemicals that will go into your septic system with the volume of, well, "other stuff", you will find that the photo chemicals are minute by comparison.

    The presence of a water softener will change the chemistry of your water, but will inevitably have to go through a calibration process to establish basic time and temperature relationships for your darkroom, the way you choose to work, the materials you work with, and you cameras and meters, and those calibrations will take into account the water chemistry.

    Actually, I didn't notice any change in black and white processing when we first installed a water softener, but I did see a hange in my Cibachrome color printing base filtration. So I doubt that it will have any impact on black and white work.
    Louie

  6. #6

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    With the volume your talking about, just buy distilled water for developing your film. 3 or 4 rolls a week won't hurt your septic.
    art is about managing compromise

  7. #7

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    This issue is not the functioning of the septic tank. Yes, certain chemicals in certain concentrations can affect the functioning of the septic system. The main issue is the protection of the ground water (or surface water in some instances) resource. Contamination is cumulative. A little here, a little there and over time the resource becomes compromised. If it goes into the septic tank, then out of the tank into the receiving environment, then there is a good possibility that it will show up in the environment.

  8. #8

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    Do you have any facts to back this up?

    Quote Originally Posted by r-brian View Post
    This issue is not the functioning of the septic tank. Yes, certain chemicals in certain concentrations can affect the functioning of the septic system. The main issue is the protection of the ground water (or surface water in some instances) resource. Contamination is cumulative. A little here, a little there and over time the resource becomes compromised. If it goes into the septic tank, then out of the tank into the receiving environment, then there is a good possibility that it will show up in the environment.
    art is about managing compromise

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by avandesande View Post
    Do you have any facts to back this up?
    More acre-feet of ground water and more drinking water wells have been impacted by septic system discharges in New Mexico than all other sources combined. It can be a function of density, or type of contaminant, or local geology. Besides impacts from Nitrates, we're starting to see impacts from endrocrin disruptors and pharmaceuticals, discharges from water softeners and other chemicals. Photo-chemicals, per se, have not been studied but more and more contaminants are being found. Septic systems are a black box, we really don't know what they are doing or not doing sometimes.

    Brian Schall
    Technical Specialist
    NM Environment Dept.
    Liquid Waste Program



 

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