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Phyto-purification, natural sanitation.

While conventional individual sanitation systems (here we mean septic tanks) are expensive and not always effective, there is an ecological and economical alternative, phyto-purification. This technique, also called lagooning, uses plants to purify and filter wastewater from the house. To help you discover this natural cleansing, HandymanDuanche has looked into the matter.

What is the principle of phyto-purification?

The principle

Phyto-purification uses the natural purifying properties of aquatic plants and their environment to clean water. This vegetation serves as a support for bacterial colonies (aerobic bacteria) that transform the organic matter of the wastewater into mineral matter, which ends up being absorbed by the plants. In exchange, the plants feed the bacteria with oxygen through their roots. They also assimilate nitrate and phosphate and some water pollutants and use it as "fertilizer". Lagooning is simply about reproducing this natural process in our gardens to clean up our wastewater. The water recovered in the different treatment basins is then reused for watering.

What about French legislation?

Not yet approved by French regulations and standards, lagooning is part of alternative individual sanitation systems. It takes advantage of a legal vacuum: not forbidden, but not allowed either! Before setting up this purification system, it is essential to talk to your municipality and request a waiver. To support you in your steps, but also in the realization of your project, you can call on an environmental consultant.

How to install a lagoon system?

Filtration by plants

Although few French companies venture into phyto-purification, the self-construction sector has taken a good look at the issue. Associations and individuals help each other and advise on the development of their own lagoonages. Journals, books, websites, conferences or participatory projects, there are plenty of opportunities to learn how to build your own natural sanitation system. Be aware, however, that there should be five to ten square meters of lagoonage per inhabitant of the house, which can take a lot of space in the garden.

The interview

Binding phyto-purification requires regular and rigorous maintenance. There is no question of being away from home for more than two months, and even less so during the hot season when you sometimes need to water the lagoon. Watersheds must be constantly monitored and sometimes mowed if the vegetation requires it, not to mention the sludge that must be cleaned from time to time. If you do not have a green thumb or garden work you do not like, phyto-purification can quickly turn into a real ordeal.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this sanitation system?


If the ecological qualities of phyto-purification are undeniable, this installation also offers economic benefits. Much less expensive than a septic tank, it will cost you between 1000 and 3000 euros in self-construction. In addition, it adds a decorative and lively touch to your garden with its ponds and aquatic plants, which are likely to attract wildlife nearby. In addition to the maintenance required by this system, it requires constant vigilance against the risk of drowning for young children and health risks caused by pets.

Still in the experimental stage, the implementation of such a device requires a significant personal investment, which is unfortunately not within the reach of all. If, however, the adventure tempts you, HandymanDuanche strongly encourages you to document on the issue and to get closer to the associations concerned.

To learn more about phyto-purification, HandymakerDuenchie interviewed Gaëtan Cailleau, an environmental consultant who knows a lot about the issue.

Read the interview.

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