If properly designed, constructed, and maintained, septic systems are an effective way to treat household wastewater in areas without access to sanitary sewers.
A typical septic system consists of the following major components:
- A sewer line through which all wastewater exits the home and enters the septic tank.
- A septic tank, which is a buried watertight container. Wastewater remains in the tank long enough for solids to settle to the bottom (sludge) and oil and grease to float to the surface (scum).
- Clarified wastewater then flows out of the tank through a distribution box to the drainfield.
- Once the clarified wastewater enters the drainfield, it flows through perforated pipes into the soil.
- Suitable soil is required for a properly functioning septic system. The wastewater percolates into the soil, which provides final treatment for the water by removing remaining bacteria, viruses, and nutrients.
In order to function properly on a long-term basis, a septic system must be properly cared for and maintained. An improperly cared for system may fail, causing detrimental water quality impacts and expensive repairs.
Some valuable tips for caring for your septic system include:
- Inspect septic system annually and pumpout every three to five years
- Keep records of septic system pumping and maintenance, including a map of septic system and drainfield locations
- Use water efficiently to reduce strain on the system
- Minimize introduction of chemicals and non-biodegradable materials into the septic system
- Eliminate use of garbage disposals
- Choose low-phosphate or phosphate-free detergents
- Keep heavy equipment, including vehicles, away from the system and drainfield
- Direct gutter spouts and other drains away from the drainfield
- Do not plant trees or shrubs near the drainfield
If a septic system does fail, you may notice pooling water, muddy soil, or an odor around the drainfield area. Other symptoms of failure may include toilets or drains backing up inside the house, or bright green strips of grass over the drainfield. However, by the time you notice these signs it may be too late to avoid costly repairs! The best thing you can do for your septic system is exercise proper care and maintenance on a regular basis.
Bluegrass Greensource currently has funding available for septic maintenance and repairs for residents of the Dix River watershed in Boyle, Garrard, and Lincoln Counties. Find out more on our Grant Opportunities page or contact bridget@bgGreensource.org for more information.
We will be hosting a series of FREE septic system care workshops for homeowners in Boyle, Lincoln, and Garrard Counties in 2015. Participants will learn about local watersheds and water quality, how to properly care for septic systems, and how to identify problems with septic systems. Homeowners may be eligible for financial assistance, including free pumpouts and cost-share grants for repairs or straight-pipe replacements.
For more information, please contact Bridget Abernathy: firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 266-1572 or (866) 222-1648.
Upcoming Septic Workshops
- Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service Office – October 17, 2015 – 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Upcoming Watershed Festivals
- Coming Soon!