This year, on Earth Day we want to encourage you to think about sewage. While not the most glamorous subject, paying attention to your sewage disposal system is critical to the health and wellness of the environment, your family and your neighbors.
If you are one of the 800,000-plus homeowners in Indiana (in.gov/isdh) served by an onsite septic system, we want to share some simple things you can do to help protect the environment — and yourself — on Earth Day and every day.
Failure to maintain a septic system can lead to backups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs. Septic systems that are poorly sited, designed, installed, operated or maintained can cause health and water quality problems, including:
- Contamination of surface water and ground water with nitrates and disease-causing pathogens
- Algae growth and lower oxygen levels in lakes and marine waters due to excessive nitrogen and phosphorous
- Contamination of shellfish beds and swimming beaches
- Exposure of your family or pets to sewage
The Indiana State Department of Health and your county Health Department provides resources for property owners and services such as septic design review, permits, certified contractors, overseeing required septic inspections, and general information on proper septic system maintenance.
Here are some important Earth Day – and everyday – reminders (cleverly compiled by Kitsap Sun):
Look for gook or peek for leaks: Check to make sure that sewage is not leaking from your wastewater system. Leaking sewage can make people sick and close swimming beaches and shellfish beds.
Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a certified contractor. Tanks should be pumped when necessary and more complicated systems require more frequent maintenance and inspections. We’ve got a list of certified contractors on our website.
Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day — too much water at once can overload a septic drainfield.
Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease, or putting food waste down the drain. Your septic system likes to digest what comes out of you, not off your plate.
Shield Your Field: Don’t park or drive on septic system components, especially the drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or compact the drainfield soils. You also need to be careful when landscaping your septic drainfield to prevent root intrusion.
Permits protect you: Permits can save you a lot of time and money. Does that sound like “government talk?” Here are a couple “real world” scenarios that may convince you otherwise.
If you live in an area where you and your neighbors are all facing the reality of failed or failing septics, it may be time to look at a community septic elimination project. For information about feasibility studies, processes and options for the installation of sanitary sewer in your neighborhood contact us. You can also learn more on our Septic Elimination page.