Cesspool vs Septic Tank: The Differences & Which Is Better

Cesspool vs septic tank: cesspools are holes in the ground that dump scum and liquid wastewater into a small area while septic tanks hold the scum and spread out the liquid wastewater over a wider area. The treated wastewater is properly dealt with by the environment. For this reason, septic tanks are better for the environment and people than cesspools. 

Keep reading to find out more of their differences.

Dayna and Reid are about to make the switch.

They’ve been living in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii for years now. They are constantly worrying about the situation their state’s environment faces.

Especially when it comes to the water.

Due to all the poor treatment of waste from cesspools, the water in Hawaii isn’t the safest. For swimming or drinking.

That’s why they’re making the switch from cesspool to septic tank. That and the government is making it mandatory by 2050. Might as well do it now while they can still get a tax incentive.

Knowing what they know about the cesspool vs septic tank debate, they’re glad to make the switch.

Here is what they know about cesspools vs septic tanks.


Dayna knows cesspools are gross.

They are basically a hole in the ground where waste and filth collects. Scum and liquid waste flow down into the soil immediately surrounding it.

This makes it hard for the soil to purify it the way it does with septic tanks.

Plus if the sludge and leftover waste piles up too high it’ll block the drainage holes and then your in for a nasty surprise (and smell). Even if you avoid this, sometimes the soil can’t absorb anymore waste and it bubbles to the surface…

“Ew,” Dana thinks with a shudder, “I’m glad we won’t have to worry about that anymore.”

None of this is good for the environment. In fact, cesspools are so far behind in the cesspool vs septic tank debate that septic tanks now replace old cesspools regularly!

Speaking of septic tanks, here is what Reid knows about them.

Septic Tanks

Reid is ready for a septic tank.

They are so much nicer than cesspools. Firstly, they only release liquid wastewater, not scum and liquid wastewater. How septic systems work is already better than cesspools.

Cesspool vs septic tank the septic tank here wins

The scum is broken down by bacteria living in the tank. The liquid wastewater discharges into an absorption field. This field helps purify the liquid wastewater even more before it goes into the ground (where it sees further purification).

“It’ll be nice knowing we are helping our state be safer,” Reid thinks with a smile.

Cesspool vs Septic Tank: The Winner Is…

Septic tanks by far. They are better at doing what cesspools should be doing: treating waste so it can safely interact with our environment. We’ll be hurting ourselves less by doing more for our surroundings. Switching can be the best thing you can do.

Converting a cesspool to a septic tank system in Kona >>