On-site treatment systems discharging to groundwater rely on the effective distribution of effluent across a percolation area to provide an appropriate loading rate for the subsoil. In Ireland, this is achieved in a distribution box which splits the effluent evenly between the requisite number of percolation pipes. The flow regime experienced at four different distribution boxes was monitored continuously over twelve month periods which established that the most common flow rates at the distribution unit were in the range 1–4 litres/minute for a four to five person dwelling. In addition, the average flow rate from the four sites was only 100 litres per person per day, compared to recommended design value of 180 litres per person per day. Two distribution boxes were also tested in the laboratory to assess their distribution efficiency over a range of loading rates. The most commonly installed unit was found to significantly favour two out of the four trenches and both units were shown to perform particularly poorly at a range of different off-level installation angles. Modifications to the boxes were also tested, involving plastic V-notch inserts which were shown to greatly improve the hydraulic distribution and make the unit much less sensitive to off-level installation or subsidence.

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