To the casual observer in a typical French bar, eavesdropping on the conversations of the ubiquitous British Expats propping up the latter, it would seem that there are only 3 subjects of conversation. The exchange-rate pound to euro, the extortionate price of ferry tickets to Blighty for the essential supplies of Hienz baked beans and back rashers, and the French Sewage System: Lack Of. One would have to live in a pretty remote and ramshackle hovel in England which did not enjoy the benefits of a mains sewage works and sewers, loving laid at 1 to 100 falls, for the Victorians just loved digging gurt big 'oles and laying bricks and pipes.
To comply with new environmental laws, [ essentially the crazy idea is that the French have to make a passing stab at treating sewage and not pour it into the nearest ditch- at least that was an improvement on chucking out of the window!
], we had a new system put in in 2005, which cost me half the price of a new car. It has two pumps, one on the exit from the 4000 litre septic settlement tank, to pump settled water to the sealed vertical filter bed [35 cubic metres of sand], and one to lift the filtered water from the filter base and.....er.....pump it into the nearest ditch!
All approved by the highly compensated Engineer lady from the Prefecture, of course, who stomped round inspecting stuff and pontificating over her drawings, while our installer muttered vieled oaths under his breath in patois.
In 3 years, the sewage had eaten right through the support chains on both the expensive immersed pumps, 1/4" thick hot-dipped galvanised steel. The septic tank pump failed at the same time, the raw sewage had got past the seals into the armature and eaten it too. I baulked at the price of a new pump, and got an all plastic pump, capable of handling solids, in the UK for a fifth of the price. System over engineered, you see, by folks with lots of brains but little practical know-how. There was no need for giant pumps capable of hurling the entire contents into the filter in minutes. We only use 150 litres of water per day, so a 500W pump will eat the job. Yes it takes half an hour and not 5 minutes but so what?
We got two neat little battery powered gizmos that whistle if the pumps fail, BTW.