Septic Systems Need Regular Maintenance
There are thousands of home sewage treatment systems in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan and many of them have not been serviced in a while. With the current focus on the state of water quality in Lake Erie, area health departments and other public agencies are asking homeowners with septic systems to make sure that they are maintaining their systems properly. Septic systems in the Wolf Creek watershed are particularly important to water quality. That creek empties into Lake Erie at the Maumee Bay State Park and tests have shown that its waters have contributed to bacteria at the beaches of the park.
“The Wolf Creek watershed includes Jerusalem Township and parts of the City of Oregon,” said TMACOG Vice President of Water Quality Planning, Kurt Erichsen. “We have made great strides in improving water here, and Oregon has installed miles of sewers in recent years. But we can do better and we know that septic systems are part of our problem.”
A septic system serving a family of four with a thousand-gallon tank should be emptied every 24 to 30 months. Obvious signs that a system needs attention includes a damp spot on the lawn over the tank, odor, and backup into the house. However, some septic systems have been modified to redirect effluent to a nearby ditch. Householders with these systems will never see a problem, but they are polluting nearby waterways every day, in violation of regulations.
Guidelines to keeping a home sewage treatment system in good repair include:
• Do not drive over or park vehicles on any part of your septic system.
• Do not build or dig in your drain field.
• Do not use a garbage disposal with a septic system. It will fill your tank with solids 50% faster.
• Flush only waste and toilet paper. Do not flush feminine hygiene items, paper towels, baby wipes or diapers, harsh chemicals, or paints. Flushing these items could lead to costly repairs.
• Limit the use and amount of water going into your septic system.
• Do not connect ground water sumps into your septic system. These should be connected to a ditch or storm sewer.
• Do not plant trees and shrubs over the sewage treatment area.
• Direct surface water away from the leach field. Look at downspouts, patios, and driveways.
• Remember that even in the best soil conditions and with the best maintenance schedule, home sewage systems are only designed to last 25 years.