Proper use and maintenance of your septic system is necessary to prevent it from malfunctioning and leaking pollutants into local waterways. Some recommended proactive measures include:
- Pumping or inspecting the system once every three years;
- Diverting surface water away from the drain field;
- Avoiding driving or parking on the drain field to prevent soil compaction;
- Keeping the roots of trees and shrubs away from the drain field pipes to avoid obstructed drain lines; and
- Consider aerobic digesters when it is time to replace the system.
- Sewage backing up in the basement or drains;
- Ponded water or wet areas over the drain field;
- Bright green grass over the drain field;
- A dense stand of aquatic plants along your shoreline (lakeside residents);
- Sewage odors; Bacteria or nitrate in nearby well water; and
- Biodegradable dye flushed through your system is detectable in the lake (lakeside residents).
Markham, L. and K. Demorest “Protecting Your Waterfront Investment: 10 Simple Shoreland Stewardship Practices,” Center for Land Use Education, UW-Extension, http://clean-water.uwex.edu/
“BMPs For Owners of Septic Tank Systems,” City of Los Angeles: Stormwater Program, www.lacity.org/SAN/WPD/Siteorg/education/bmps/septic.htm
Septic diagram: St. Clair County, MI, Septic System Maintenance Guide, www.cis.stclaircounty.org/planning8451155.asp