Sewage treatment systems..any info?

We are renovating a property in the department Lot of France and need to install a Sewage System as we are off mains sewage.

We have shortlisted to the following 3:

1. Compact Filter System/ Les Filtres compacts

2. Reed Bed/ Les Filtres plants

3. Micro-Station/Les microstations a culture fixee/libres

Ideally we would like to use the Reed bed system due to environmental reasons but are worried it will come with high costs for installation/large footprint and general complications of setting it up.

The available area to us is around 5x5 metres and we don't really want to lose any more garden than that.

Does anyone have any feedback/info on the 3 system options above and also on products/companies used?

Look forward to hearing some feedback!


Hi Gordon,

I have been researching the Eparco system and am slightly confused as they have sent me 2 different PDF's, one for the Zeoliteparco and one for the Boxeparco they seem to differ in price quite a lot but I cannot seem to find out from them the difference, don't suppose you can shed any light on the question?



Thanks for the tip Keith. Don’t suppose you have a link to a Spanc announcement?

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for your info! Can you tell me how often the sludge needs emptying and a rough cost of this? Is there just one company that deal with emptying or do Eparco use their own? Also is any maintenance required on the filter at all?



Thanks Gordon. I'll give them a bell as my fosse is well out of norms.

Hi John,

EPARCO have authorised installers throughout France - it should be possible to find via their website?

I used the same contractor as the houses were within 5kms of each other.

Hi Nina,

I have the EPARCO which has 2 tanks, the first is as per normal to collect the waste where the sludge builds up. The second is of a similar size (5 cu. metres) and is full of zeolite volcanic rock (small pieces) which is what purifies the effluent. There is then one outlet pipe to a ditch or it can be used for garden irrigation as shown on their details on the website. I think it is a great system EParco have authorised installers throughout France.

You can and probably should buy microstations of all sorts in France. I say should because they are quite bulky to transport and they need to conform (as usual) to a French "Norme" and be the required size for the number of possible inhabitants. Two people living in a house designed for 8 will need a larger system than for a two bed house.

We're here in 22 full time and have installed a Neve microstation. The only thing that shows above ground is a green lid 110 x 110cm. There's a pipe in, a pipe out and a mains cable to power the air pump that works the whole thing; it pumps air through the poo and, with the aid of the poo friendly bacteria, breaks it down and circulates it between different compartments to clarify it. The small amount of remaining solids finally settle in less than a quarter of the tank space. We've only emptied that compartment once in nearly 5 years and even then we could have left it a while. Very efficient. I've had to clear the odd blockage twice since we've had it but that wasn't rocket science, armed with a garden hose and a good pair of gloves. A bit of poo doesn't scare me…

I do, however, remember being told by Sandrine from the SPANC that, if you have enough available garden space, they will expect you to use a sand-filter system. We didn't have the space at the time; now we have - phew!

Check that first. Good luck.

Hi All,

Thanks for your comments.

We have already been in contact with SPANC and so far they have given us options to look at for all 3 systems.

The house will be our permeant residence.

Thanks for your advise Gordon, can I ask what model of Eparco you have and also does it require a soak away? if so of what size?



Hi Gordon. Did you use the same contractor for both and if so where are they based?


I think the micro station fosse are brilliant and you do not need soak aways and very little space. They are expensive though and I believe they have to come from the UK.

regards Virginia


The system you choose will have to be approved by SPANC or their local representative company - the Mairie will advise who to contact for approval.

Approval of a reed bed system I am guessing will depend very much on whether the local inspector is in favour.

A Micro station will not be allowed if the house is not your main residence i.e. a holiday property/maison secondaire.

I would advise you go for an EPARCO compact system - they are about 7500 Euros. Google the name. I have installed 2 in the last 2 years - on the house we sold & our new place. They take up less than 25 square metres. Get back to me if you have any queries

Gordon Barnes MRICS FCIOB

Chartered Surveyor

My experience - as an estate agent - is that reed bed systems get rejected out of hand by the SPANC and local authorities in most départements in the South West. Check with your local SPANC first before considering this method.

sorry about last post not clear,we are in Herault. We have grease seperater,large tank, lava filled tank, and 'clean' water holding tank, all perfect and over what was needed when we fitted it. SPANC now say its not good enough. We are on shitist rock, non pourous and a slope so no room for a soak away with out major digging out, and putting the swimming pool in danger. We are hoping to sell soon and are at a lost to know way forward.