Septic Systems and County Oversight
What is a septic system?
What is a septic system?
In areas too far to be feasible to connect to municipal wastewater systems, treatment of sewage and other used water from your home is performed onsite, where it originates. This is typically performed through an onsite storage tank and subsurface soil absorption field (leach or disposal field). Much of the processing of the wastewater is performed in the storage or septic tank, which keeps the solids, oils, scum, and other floating material out of the soil, while also allowing microorganisms to break down the contaminants. The processed water then flows out into the soil absorption field, whether through gravity or a pump, and is further treated as it travels through the soil. If your system is not working properly, contains inorganic material such as medicines or cleaners, or is too close to groundwater or your well, it can contaminate your drinking water and surrounding watershed. Thus, it is important to check your system regularly, and be mindful of what you put into your wastewater.
Conventional vs. Enhanced Systems
While conventional septic systems work well, they do have some limitations. They often need large areas for the leach field to work properly. Also, if the surrounding soil absorbs water too quickly or not at all, contaminants will end up in the groundwater without being absorbed and filtered by the soil first. In some areas, the groundwater levels are too high to allow for the contaminants to filter properly before flowing into the groundwater. To solve these problems, enhanced septic systems were created which more actively treat the water flowing through the system, through multiple chamber systems that more thoroughly treat the wastewater within the tank, adding oxygen to promote the growth of more microorganisms, and in some cases even UV treatment to remove contaminants. These systems more effectively protect our environment and drinking water by more actively treating the wastewater flowing through them and give us the ability to treat wastewater in locations where it was not feasible to do well before.
Enhanced systems do require more oversight than conventional systems, as there are multiple parts such as floats and filters and pumps that need to be checked regularly to confirm they are in working order. Each County, the State, and even the Federal government has created regulations surrounding these systems, as well as septic systems in general, designed to protect the environment and specifically the watershed surrounding each home and business.
Our Role and Yours
Essential Operations values its role in protecting the environment, including our local watersheds. We know that figuring out all the regulations can be a chore, and we strive to help homeowners keep their systems in great working order and in compliance with all the regulatory organizations. This includes annual and bi-annual inspections, samples, alarm calls and troubleshooting issues, and the design of new systems.
You as the homeowner play a huge role in the upkeep of your system, since everything you put down your drains goes through the system and out into the soil. Being aware of what cleaners you use and how much of them, how often you are doing high impact things like washing clothes and taking showers, are all ways to protect your surrounding environment, as well as working with your service provider regularly to make sure your system is running correctly.
For more information on how your septic system can effect your drinking water, see here