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EPA Encourages Homeowners and Communities to Maintain Septic Systems During SepticSmart Week

Release Date: 09/21/2015
Contact Information: Robert Daguillard (MEDIA ONLY), daguillard.robert@epa.gov, 202-564-6618 Maureen Pepper (PUBLIC INQUIRIES), pepper.maureen@epa.gov, 208-378-5626 Lina Younes (EN ESPAŅOL), younes.lina@epa.gov, 202-564-9924

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold its third annual SepticSmart Week on Sept. 21-25 to encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems.

Nearly 21.5 million American households depend on septic or other types of onsite systems to treat their wastewater. In addition, many businesses and park facilities use these types of systems.

Failure to maintain a septic system can lead to backups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs.

Additionally, septic systems that are poorly sited, designed, installed, operated or maintained can cause health and water quality problems, including:


• Contamination of surface waters and ground water with disease-causing pathogens and nitrates
• Excessive nitrogen discharges to sensitive coastal waters
• Phosphorus pollution of inland surface waters
• Increased algal growth and lowered dissolved oxygen levels
• Contamination of shellfish beds and swimming beaches by pathogens

“Proper septic maintenance can improve water quality across the nation,” said Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Water. “Maintenance can also prevent expensive malfunctions and save homeowners significant sums of money. It’s good for our environment and our economy.”

During SepticSmart Week, EPA will provide homeowners with maintenance tips, including:


Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor. 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 all 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, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

EPA’s SepticSmart program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. In addition, its online resource for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations provides tools to educate clients and residents about proper care and options for onsite wastewater infrastructure.

This year, SepticSmart Week will also focus on advanced septic technologies that offer additional treatment beyond conventional systems.

For more information, visit
www.epa.gov/septicsmart

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