All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

And the answer is a septic tank

A septic tank before installationImage via Wikipedia

When puzzled, ask the postlady.

I have been turning over in mind why Bernard should give me the tip to lock up my poultry....he isn't a friend, after all and is hardly public spirited. Even when his tractor exhaust set fire to his hay barn he didn't alert the fire brigade until he was sure that the fire had taken hold, by which time his neighbour, the duckstealer, was getting distinctly worried about his stash of illicit animal feed in the barn on the border of the properties.

The oracle, inspired by a coffee rather than bay leaves, has spoken. Bernard is worried about his sewage.

I have mentioned the current sewage wars in earlier posts, but up to now I haven't seen the inspectors from the water board as there are only two of them and they have to cover about forty communes. I'd had the sneaking hope that they, like everyone else, had been unable to find us up in this little hamlet, but no...they're just taking a long time to get round. They have been spotted in St. Ragondin, whence rumour has it that one man with no sewage treatment system whatsoever has been told...and certificated...that his sewage disposal system is within the norms...well, I suppose it is if the norms are those which prevailed in the middle ages....while two others have been told that they don't have a system at all in spite of being able to provide bills from the night cart man to show that they have.

Bernard has complicated arrangements for his ducks and goats, involving tanks and goodness only knows what, and spreads the results on his fields on hot days in summer, conveniently forgetting his obligation to plough it in within twenty four hours. What Bernard does not have is any sort of arrangement for his domestic sewage. Bernard is now apparently calculating whether or not he can bribe the inspectors to ignore him completely, or, having recently acquired a powerful digger with yet another loan from the ever ready Credit Agricole, whether he should install a septic tank. With another loan from the ever ready Credit Agricole.

Both options cost money. The first option is probably the one he will try first, depending on his relationship with the families of the inspectors - local men both - as the matter, once certificated, will never raise its' head again. He is unlikely to sell the farm where his house is situated, so no one will ever know that the system is non existent.

However, with ever more stringent European Union rules on water quality, how can he guarantee that the water board won't be back in a few years' time...perhaps with different inspectors? Might it not be best to bite the bullet and dig the hole?

If the latter, then he has a major problem. Thanks to the weird way French landholdings get divided up, while Bernard has a lot of land, he doesn't have much around the house itself, and the septic be in the norms...requires distance he does not possess. He has already consulted the duckstealer about putting it on his land, but the duckstealer is having none of it. He doesn't want something on his land which gives Bernard the right to come and inspect and repair it and he doesn't want the clear water from it either. The duckstealer is notoriously coy about having anyone whatsoever on his land and he's not making an exception for Bernard.

Bernard, thwarted, has now bethought him of me. I own a triangle of land between Bernard's house and the lane, which would be very convenient for the installation of a septic tank. According to the postlady, who has been sounded out by Bernard, he is thinking that I don't do anything with it...true...and that I won't mind him installing his septic tank there...false.

If Bernard wants to install his septic tank there, he can buy the land. And he needn't think he's getting it at a rock bottom price either. He can apply for another loan from Credit Agricole.

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  1. Ah good. A simple explanation. Any way you could get that piece re-zoned as constuctable land?

    Our fosse doesn't conform either, and there is nowhere we could put a conforming one without either digging up the public thoroughfare or buying a chunk of the field next door, neither of which we are able to do.

    When we were inspected the nice man just shrugged, muttered something about having seen a lot worse and wrote out an ordinance that requires us to empty it every four years.

    Did you know that an act was once passed that required every dwelling in France to be on mains' drainage (paid for from the public purse) by 2005? Like that was going to happen...

  2. Oh blimey - good luck getting the money out of him. And let him use his own bloomin land. Grrr.

  3. France... definitely the last bastion for the damned. I'll be round in the morning to supply a proper builders quote.

  4. The delights of rural France. In our village in Wales we squabble over sheds. Ken - next door but one - has five sheds and wants to build another; one already has a shower and kitchen in it

  5. Jon, a relief it's only about sewage.
    As to getting the land reclassed as 'constructible'...I've tried. In the time of the last maire, anything was going to be turned down, and though the new one is much better - we even get the minutes of council meetings which the last one regarded as his own private business -she is lumbered as the council have set up a second lotissement and they want to sell the plots, so you can whistle if you want to build elsewhere...unless, of course, you are a farmer. If Bernard bought the land, he would be able to build a house...I can't.
    However, if he wants to buy, then the price will reflect this bit of realpolitik.
    As for everyone on mains drainage....we've been paying for mains drainage on our water bills for yonks, without a whiff of it in the air!

    French Fancy...he doesn't have room for a proper installation thanks to the patchwork arrangement of land holdings. At the moment all, but all, flows into the ditch on the lane, via the hedge dividing his land from that of the duckstealer.

    Jimmy Bastard, make it gold plated,please.

    Mark, it is thrilling, living in the country, isn't it? What is Ken doing with all these sheds? Any idea? Breeding something?

  6. Ahh, 21st century France.

    Shit in a bucket and fling it over the hedge, nice.