SepticSmart Week: Homeowners Urged to Maintain Septic Systems

From the Indiana State Department of Health:

INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is reminding Hoosiers to maintain their septic systems as part of SepticSmart Week, a national observance designed to educate homeowners and communities about the importance of caring for septic systems.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than one in five households in the United States (60 million people) depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater. Nearly 39 percent of Hoosiers use septic systems to treat wastewater from their homes and businesses. About 15,000 septic systems are installed and about 6,000 repaired in Indiana each year. Proper maintenance of these systems is a vital part of protecting public health.

“Septic system maintenance is important and is the best way to protect human and environmental health,” said Mike Mettler, REHS, director of Environmental Public Health at ISDH. “Have your system checked at least every three years and keep records of all maintenance work.”

Septic system owners are responsible for maintaining their onsite wastewater treatment systems. SepticSmart Week provides homeowners an opportunity to learn measures that will help them properly use and maintain their systems and protect their investments in their homes. Homeowners with septic systems are urged to follow these tips:
• Have systems inspected every three years by a licensed contractor, and have tanks pumped every three to five years, or more frequently if necessary.
• Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain.
• Monitor water use and spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system.
• Fix plumbing leaks and consider installing faucet aerators.
• Never park or drive on a system’s absorption field where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.The EPA’s SepticSmart program promotes proper septic system use and maintenance all year long. Industry practitioners, local governments, homeowners and community organizations can learn more about septic systems at www.onsite.isdh.in.gov. Visit www.epa.gov/septic for more homeowner resources and information about SepticSmart Week 2019.
For important health and safety updates, visit ISDH at www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR):

Get SepticSmart, Sept. 16-20
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared Sept. 16-20 SepticSmart Week, and the DNR Lake Michigan Coastal Program (LMCP) is doing its part to promote septic system awareness and maintenance.

The SepticSmart program (epa.gov/septicsmart) educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance throughout the year.

An estimated 33,033 households across the Lake Michigan watershed depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater. Failure to maintain a septic system can lead to back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, polluted lakes and waterways, and risks to public health and the environment.

The Northwest Indiana Septic System Coordination Work Group, comprising federal, State, and local governments and agencies, State and county health departments, not-for-profit groups, and interested individuals, suggests these tips for maintaining a functioning septic system:

• Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor, and have their tank pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years. Many septic system failures occur during the winter holiday season; therefore, EPA encourages homeowners to get their septic systems inspected and serviced now before licensed inspectors’ schedules fill up around the holidays. Homeowners and businesses can contact the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association (iowpa.org) for information on Certified Professional Inspectors in their region.
• Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drain field.
• Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter don’t — they can clog and potentially damage septic systems.
• 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 system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
• Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drain field, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

In addition to the SepticSmart program, the LMCP has developed with partners of the Septic System Coordination Workgroup have developed a locally focused Clean Water Ambassador program for coastal area septic served communities.

Clean Water Ambassadors from communities around the Lake Michigan watershed have been hosting events and spreading information to their neighbors about septic maintenance. Those communities are:

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For more information on SepticSmart Week, the Clean Water Ambassador program, or to obtain copies of EPA SepticSmart brochures and the coordination workgroup’s outreach materials, see dnr.IN.gov/lakemich/10025.htm.

For information concerning local septic system regulations, contact the county health departments in your area.

To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.