Presentation on theme: "Educating Homeowners about Septic Systems"— Presentation transcript:
1 Educating Homeowners about Septic Systems Len Gilstrap, RSCarteret County Health DepartmentCarteret County Onsite Inspection and TrackingProgramEPA Section 319 Program Grant
2 RegulationsOnsite systems permitted under the provisions of Laws and Rules for Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems (15A NCAC 18A .1900)
3 PurposeTo allow the continued use of wastewater systems that are installed in a proper manner and suitable soils so they do not have a detrimental affect on the public health and environment through contamination of land, groundwater and surface waters.In 1977 the General Assembly declared rapid growth, faulty installations, unsuitable soils and population density adversely affect the efficiency and functioning of systems.
4 Risk ManagementRules for onsite wastewater systems are based on the risk associated with the proposed application.Risk of contamination is enhanced with limited suitable soils or space, higher flows, higher waste strength, proximity to drinking water supplies, and water bodies.
5 Site Evaluations Topography Soil characteristics Soil wetness Soil depthRestrictive horizonsAvailable space
6 Site Suitability Based on site evaluation results Wastewater flow Wastewater characteristicsSetbacks to wells, water bodies, ditches, property lines, etc.
7 Depth of drainfield and water table Minimum 12 to 18 inches separation between bottom of trench and groundwater, even during wet times of the yearAerobic (air) soil removes bacteria
8 Type of Soil Sandy – too fast and not purified Clayey – too slow and poor treatment (ponds)Uniform texture, yellow, yellow-red or bright red in colorGray soil indicates anaerobic conditions
9 Septic System Responsibility Belongs to the ownerProtect your investmentReplacement cost = thousands $
10 Septic System Failures Unpumped and sludge filled tanksClogged drainfieldsHydraulic overloadingLandscape modifications of drainfield areaAgeing systems, old technology
11 Why Do We Care?Septic system failure can result in contamination of land, surface waters, and ground waters which causes human disease through direct consumption, direct or recreational contact or ingestions of contaminated shellfish.
12 Conventional System Maintenance The typical onsite septic system consists of a septic tank and a soil absorption (treatment) drainfield.Sounds Simple?Wow – Do we have something to tell you!
14 No Operator Required What do you know about your system? What do you need to know about your system?What can you do to protect your system and investment?Proper septic system management is key to protection of environment, investments, and public health.
15 Drainage and Landscaping Surface water diversions for foundation drains, driveway, gutters and other paved areasHeat pumps and water softeners, and irrigation systemsSystem area mounded to shed waterSettled area and depressions filledOpen ditches and outlets
16 Water Use Drainfields designed for 120 gallons per bedroom/day Exceeding design capacity may cause system to fail
17 Reduce water use by: Checking toilets and faucets for leaks Use 1.6 gal. (or less) per flush toiletsUse faucet aerators at sinks and flow reducer nozzles at showersLimit length of shower to 10 minutes or less
18 Reduce water use by:Do not fill bathtub with more than 6 inches of waterDo not wash more that 1 – 2 loads of laundry per dayMatch water load to size of load being washedDo not use dishwasher until it is full
19 Garbage Disposal? Doubles the amount of solids added to tank Increases solids to drainfield due to suspended solidsSuggest putting most of table scraps in trashRestrict use when possibleIncrease frequency of pumping
20 Grease and Oil?Greases, creams, butter, cheeses and cooking oils clog soilsAdditives to break down grease are not recommended. They tend to keep grease and oils in suspension while in tank and become solid in the drainfield.Drainfield replacement always required
21 Cleaning Products? Use biodegradable products when possible Use moderate amounts of cleanersDo not pour solvents or other chemical down drainDo not use toilet cleaners meant to be placed in the toilet tank
22 Cleaning Products?Improper use of cleaning products and chemicals kill bacteria in the septic tank and the drainfieldDO NOT FLUSH: paints, varnishes, thinners, waste oils, photographic solutions, pesticides
23 Solid Waste?Do not put items down the drain that may clog septic tank or other parts of the systemCigarette butts, feminine products, condoms, disposable diapers, paper towels, facial tissues, egg shells, coffee grounds, dental floss, kitty litter, plastics
24 Septic System Protected from Damage? Prevent soil erosion from drainfield areaProtect turn-ups on LPP’s from mowersKeep vehicular traffic off systemMaintain natural (downslope) drainage away from systemDo not build over drainfield or repair areaLocate system area prior to telephone or cable installation
25 Vegetation around System Trees and shrubs closer than 100 feet to system may cause problemsRoot infiltration into tanks, pipes and drainfieldDo not put water loving trees near drainfieldKeep plantings away from tank openings
26 Is Septic System Accessible? Do not cover any part with asphalt or concreteKeep all construction away from systemFor proper function and maintenance entire system must be accessibleProtect repair area
27 Pump that Tank Use Table to determine pumping frequency Inspection of solids and scum in tank is best method to determine if pumping is neededRule of Thumb: Pump if outlet end has 12 inches of solids and/or 4 inches of scum
28 Septic Tank NC Rules require two compartments One Compartment tank Effluent FilterImage courtesy of USEPAOne Compartment tank
29 Number of Years for Pumping your System Tank size (gallons) Number of people using the septic tank system1246890011510001231250161500199
30 Use only approved wastewater haulers Find the tank and uncover opening
31 Remove lid. This tank is past due for maintenance.
32 The pumper will break up the solids and mix with liquid so the entire contents of the tank can be removed.
34 Restoring the yard to the prior condition is not always possible Restoring the yard to the prior condition is not always possible. To prevent disturbance of landscaping a riser should be installed on the tank to allow for easy access.
35 Pump that Tank Pump out both sides of septic tank The type of toilet paper, the cleaning products, along with the habits of the system owner will affect how frequently a tank needs pumping.Inspect annually
36 Pump that TankGood time to clean effluent filter
37 Improve the System Add effluent filters to older systems Add risers to tanks that require digging up to inspectAdd aluminum lids to pump tanks openings and effluent filter openingsAdd float treesContact septic system contractor or certified operator to make improvements.
38 Risk Management Higher risk applications require: Increased vertical and horizontal setbacks from surface waters, water tables, property lines, wells, etc.Higher levels of treatment
39 Risk ManagementNew wastewater technologies are quickly overcoming many limitations by creating systems with advanced pretreatment.
40 Risk Management Septic tank influent 350 mg/l BOD 200 mg/l TSS Pretreated effluent<10 mg/l BOD<10 mg/l TSSAdvanced pretreatment systems can produce effluent qualities that require less separation to ground waters, surface water and smaller disposal areas.
48 Risk & ResponsibilityMore complex wastewater systems require more monitoring and management
49 Alternative & Innovative Systems Require contracts with certified operators for operation and maintenance of systemContract must be retained for as long as the system is requiredOperation Permit specifies frequency of inspectionsHealth Department inspections and permit renewals
50 Owner Responsibilities Be knowledgeable about system and it’s operation and maintenance requirementsBe supportive of Operator and maintain contractWhen selling property provide new owners with information on septic system
51 Operator Responsibilities Check septic tank and pump tank for solidsInspect drainfields for adequate cover, surface water diversions, and surfacing effluentPurge drainlines, check and set floats and pressure head
52 Operator Responsibilities Control PanelCheck alarm, record readings in control panel, adjust timer settingsPerform performance measurements
53 Operator Responsibilities Use performance measurements to evaluate system performanceTake preventative measures when deficiencies are notedProvide repairs when neededAvailable when neededNotify owner and health department of condition of system
54 Alternative & Innovative Systems Systems are more sensitive to water use, detergents, cleaning products and oils and greasesReplacing the system will be expensive – protect it now.
55 The FutureIgnorance and neglect of your septic system will insure costly, difficult and disruptive repairs.Preventive maintenance rewards and protects your investmentProactive governments can assist property owners to assure appropriate maintenance is provided.
56 “Management efforts at the local level can help assure these elements of infrastructure are managed positively and as assets which protect community values and investment, homeowner investments, public health and environmental quality.”Dr. A.R. RubinOpinion Paper for Carteret County /Pine Knoll Shores Wastewater Management Workshop
57 ReferencesUSEPA, 2005; Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual, EPA 625-RUSEPA, 2005, Handbook for Onsite and Decentralized System Management, EPA 832 D )USEPA, 2002, A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems; EPA 832-B