In a previously written article we discussed the differences between septic systems and sewers. We are “team sanitary sewer” as evident on some of our past projects with the Whitley County Regional Water and Sewer District and the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District. We believe sanitary sewer is a more responsible and environmentally healthy option of wastewater management.
Failing septic tanks and groundwater contamination are typically a rural area problem as public sewers are usually implemented by cities and municipalities. According to Census data from 1990 nearly 25% of the US population had a septic tank or cesspool for wastewater elimination.
Lowdes County Alabama has been in the news recently for it’s failing septic systems or even in some cases lack of any kind of treatment system. Similar to Indiana septic complications, Alabama soil is also made largely of clay which prevents contaminants from properly filtering.
Many of these Alabama residents are unable to install the septic systems that can handle the soil conditions due to the high financial costs. To address the public health crisis Representative Terri Sewell introduced the Rural Septic Tank Access Act on May 16, 2018. This will allow grant funding for low and moderate income households to install or maintain proper septic systems.
What impact does a failing septic system, or lack thereof, have on public health? According to the Indiana Department of Health, a lot. Fifteen diseases related to sewage are listed in detail on the IDEM website. Many of these site gastrointestinal distress and fever as symptoms.
Flooding can also cause these contaminants to spread. With the bacteria being maintained in dirty groundwater when heavy rains and flooding occur all the contaminants are carried away with it. This allows for wells and other water sources to be tainted with harmful bacteria.
While sanitary sewer won’t entirely solve the problem of contaminated groundwater, it is certainly a good place to start. Costs can be shared among multiple residents through rates and hundreds of failing septics can be eliminated with just a single project.