Celebrate SepticSmart Week in Michigan

September 15, 2020
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278
Dale Ladouceur, Environmental Quality Specialist, LadouceurD@Michigan.gov, 517-242-4010

Gov. Whitmer declares Sept. 14-18 as SepticSmart Week

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed the week of Sept. 14-18, 2020, as SepticSmart Week.  On Monday, Sept. 14, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – in conjunction with federal, state and local governments, and private sector partners – kicked off its eighth annual SepticSmart Week to encourage American homeowners and communities to properly maintain their septic systems. Visit EPA.gov/septic for more information.

More than 1.3 million homes and businesses in Michigan depend on septic systems to treat wastewater.  Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many Michigan residents working and schooling from home. The increased amount of time spent at home leads to an increase in the amount of wastewater generated within the home and discharged to the septic system. A significant increase could cause the septic system to become overloaded, leading to failure. If not maintained, failing septic systems can contaminate groundwater and harm the environment by releasing bacteria, viruses, household chemicals, and other pollutants to local waterways.  Proper septic system maintenance protects public health, 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.  Regular septic system maintenance can save homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs and protect public health.
  • 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 drainfield.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode:  A toilet is not a trash can.  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 has not been pumped recently.  Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products.
  • Shield Your Field:  Tree and shrub roots, cars, and livestock can damage your septic drainfield.
  • Pump your Tank:  Ensure your septic tank is pumped at regular intervals as recommended by a professional and/or local permitting authority.
  • 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.

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 your septic system, visit us online at Michigan.gov/EGLEOnsiteWastewater.

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

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