MONTPELIER, Vt. – More than half of Vermonters own something worth tens of thousands of dollars buried in their backyard, yet most never lay eyes on it. These unseen treasures lurking just below the surface are wastewater treatment systems, commonly known as septic systems. Acknowledging that it is easy to flush it and forget it, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation hosted Septic Smart Week from Sept. 17 to 23, 2018. The entire week was dedicated to uncovering the valuable role these systems play, not only for individual homeowners and business owners, but for local community swimming holes, drinking water wells, and statewide water quality.
Owning a home is one of the biggest investments a Vermont homeowner will make, and in many cases, the septic system is the single most expensive item to replace. Steve Pro, president of The Septic Pro offered some advice, “Just like you wouldn’t run a car without changing the oil or doing routine maintenance and expect it to last, you shouldn’t neglect your septic system and expect it to last. By following some simple rules and periodically maintaining your septic system can save you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement costs. Yearly maintenance costs are $300 whereas replacing a failed system is $25,000.”
The DEC encourages septic system owners and users to do their part to become Septic Smart by learning about the do’s and don’ts of septic systems. Here are seven tips to consider:
- Think at the sink! What goes down the drain has a big impact on your septic system. Fats, grease, and solids can clog a system’s pipes and drain field.
- Don’t overload the commode! A toilet is not a trashcan. Disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, coffee grounds, cigarette butts, and cat litter can damage a septic system.
- Don’t strain your drain! Use water efficiently and stagger use of water-based appliances. Too much water use at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
- Shield your field! Tree and shrub roots, cars, and livestock can damage your septic drain field.
- Keep it clean! Contamination can occur when a septic system leaks due to improper maintenance. Be sure your drinking water is safe to drink by testing it regularly.
- Protect it and inspect it! Regular septic system maintenance can save homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs and protect public health.
- Pump your tank! Ensure your septic tank is pumped at regular intervals as recommended by a professional and/or local permitting authority.
Septic Smart Week 2018 encourages home and business owners, wastewater professionals, and communities to design and maintain effective systems to promote public health, water conservation, and financial stability. Be part of the solution by visiting www.epa.gov/septic for an abundance of resources and information, and Vermont’s resource hub at www.dec.vermont.gov/water/programs/ww-systems/program-education.