SepticSmart Week promotes proper care, maintenance of septic systems

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2019
Dale Ladouceur, LadouceurD@Michigan.gov, 517-242-4010
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed Sept. 16-20, 2019, as SepticSmart Week. Also beginning today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – in conjunction with federal, state and local governments, and private sector partners – will kick off its annual SepticSmart Week to encourage American homeowners and communities to properly maintain their septic systems. 

Michigan has a vision to protect and promote wise use of its globally unique water resources, which is outlined in the Strategy for Sustaining Michigan’s Water Heritage (Water Strategy). This includes a key recommendation to ensure clean and safe water through passing a statewide sanitary code.

More than 1.3 million homes and businesses in Michigan depend on septic systems to treat wastewater. If not maintained, failing septic systems can contaminate groundwater and harm the environment by releasing bacteria, viruses and household toxins to local waterways. Proper septic system maintenance protects public health and the environment, and saves the homeowner money through avoided costly repairs.

Simple tips for homeowners include:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a qualified professional or according to their state or local health department's recommendations. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
  • 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 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 drainfield as the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.
  • Pump your Tank: Routinely pumping your tank can prevent a septic system from premature failure, which can lead to groundwater contamination.
  • Test Your Drinking Water Well: If septic systems aren’t properly maintained, leaks can contaminate well water. Testing your drinking water well is the best way to ensure well water remains free from contaminates.

The EPA’s SepticSmart Program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. In addition, it serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents.

For information on Septic Systems, SepticSmart Week or tips on how to properly maintain a septic system, visit Michigan.gov/EGLEOnsiteWastewater.

To stay up to date on other EGLE news, follow Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment.

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