Gov. Eric Holcomb officially proclaimed this 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 (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.
For more information on SepticSmart Week, 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.