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MANAGING YOUR WASTEWATER DISPOSAL SYSTEM
Why Maintaining Your Septic System is Important!
There are three good reasons for maintaining your septic system:
1. For Your Health
If your septic system is working properly, it's doing its job of keeping you and your neighbors healthy.
If it's not, it can pollute your drinking water well, or that of your neighbor, and can carry pollutants and destructive nutrients to Glocester's lakes and ponds.
Many diseases, such as hepatitis, dysentery, typhoid, and gastroenteritis can be contracted from drinking polluted water contaminated by bacteria and viruses in wastewater from an improperly sited, installed, or maintained septic system.
2. For Glocester's Environment
Glocester's clean and healthy environment is why all of us live in the town. We all enjoy the use of the clean water the town's environment provides for drinking, fishing, and swimming. Water pollution robs us of all these uses.
Sewage containing nutrients reaching a water body can over-fertilize aquatic plants. The plants die, turning the water brown and murky with a rotten egg smell, and choking off the water's oxygen supply, thus killing the fish.
The same sewage reaching ground water pollutes our wells with bacteria and viruses which can make us ill or affect taste and odor, thus making our drinking water unfit.
In a properly operating system, wastewater from your house enters a septic tank where heavy solids settle out and grease and oils rise to the top. Naturally-present bacteria help decompose the solid organic matter, while liquids flow out through a pipe into a leach field and pass into the soil which removes bacteria and viruses from the wastewater.
An essential step in keeping a septic system operating properly is to have the tank pumped out regularly. Systems fail because solids and scum build up in the tank, then enter and clog the leach pipes or the soil.
3. For Your Wallet
Repairing or replacing a failed septic system is costly. The cost to replace a leachfield or other parts of your system can range from $3,000 to over $12,000. If the entire system must be replaced the cost can be much higher.
What does maintenance pumping of your system cost? On average it costs about $150 each time.
How often should a properly functioning system be pumped for maintenance purposes? Once every three years is a standard recommendation; however, it may be more or less frequently depending upon your individual system.
Proper maintenance is much less costly than the national yearly average of $260 for municipal sewer service and its initial hook-up fees which may range from $2,000 to $5,000 or higher for each home. These costs may not include the extra burden each homeowner may have to pay to install sewers in the street to hook into.
Regular inspection, pumping and a few common sense tips will keep a septic system working properly.
How Do I Know If My Septic System is Failing?
It usually isn't hard to tell. A problem-free septic system should work all year long, not cause sewage back-up in the house, not cause a noticeable odor outside, and not stain the lawn. If your backyard gets wet, soggy and smelly in the spring, you have a failed system. If you suddenly find it necessary to pump out the septic tank frequently, say every three to six months, you probably have a failed system. Good preventive maintenance includes pumping your septic tank once every three to five years to remove accumulated solids and grease. If you have ignored this regular maintenance and the system has become plugged or clogged and now needs pumping, it's too late ... you have a failed system that requires repair.
How Can I Maintain My Septic System?
- Know where your system is located. Keep your system's approved plans in a handy and safe place for reference.
- Know the location of your septic tank cover. Be sure it is in good repair - not cracked or broken.
- Install a service riser on the tank. This will mark the system location and provide access for service.
- Do not disturb the soil in the area of the leachfield.
- Do not allow vehicles to park or drive over the system, especially the leachfield! Their weight may crush the piping or disposal trenches.
- Do not place an above-ground swimming pool, gym set, shrubs or trees over the leachfield.
- Do not pour toxic household chemicals down the drain. Chemicals such as general cleaners, drain and toilet cleaners, spot removers, solvents, furniture and silver polishes, pesticides, and bleach are very persistent in ground water and can travel great distances.
- Do not use septic system cleaners. Chemical additives are illegal and can cause severe damage to the system as well as contaminating well water. Biological cleaners liquify solids into small particles which are known to clog the leachfield.
- Do not flush solids such as disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons or cigarette butts and hair down the drain. They do not decompose and will plug the system.
- Do not dispose of grease and oils, including cooking oil, down the drain.
- Do not put pesticides, medicines, paint, paint thinners, disinfectants of any type, or moth balls down the drain. These will kill beneficial bacteria which operate in your septic system.
- Use a garbage disposal sparingly or, better yet, not at all. It can overload the system with organic matter.
- Pour boiling water down your drains weekly.
- Use a mix of one cup baking soda, one cup salt, and one cup white vinegar to unplug a drain. Pour the mixture into the drain, and after 15 minutes pour in boiling water.
- To clean fixtures use baking soda and vinegar instead of toxic household cleaners. Use powdered bleach or ½ cup of baking soda instead of chlorine bleach which kills good bacteria.
- Use less water so solids are retained longer and bacteria can work better. Install water saving devices, don't flush the toilet after every use, run dishwashers and washing machines only when full. Space water use tasks to avoid peak flow times.
- Be sure that the leachfield is graded to prevent surface water from rain and snow, roof drains or road runoff from collecting over or near the system.
GLOCESTER COMMUNITY SEPTIC LOAN PROGRAM
The Glocester Wastewater Management Board announces the availability of loans through the Glocester Community Septic Loan Program.
No fee loans are now available to assist residential homeowners pay for repairs to:
- Failing sewage disposal systems;
- Substandard Individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS);
- Improperly designed system or to upgrade a system.
Loan term highlights are 4% fixed annual interest rate with loan amounts from $1,000 to $30,000 with a pay-back period of up to 10 years.
The Glocester Community Septic Loan program brochure and application are available at:
Treasurer's Office (568-6206 ext. 5)
Glocester Town Hall
1145 Putnam Pike
Chepachet, RI 02814
Evidence (for 1, 2, or 3 above) is required. It may be obtained from DEM, a sewage disposal company, or an installer/designer.
The loan will be administered by the Rhode Island Housing & Mortgage Finance Corp. (RIHMFC) in partnership with the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency and the RI Department of Environmental Management.
Do you need help with the RIHMFC application form? Do you have other questions concerning your septic system? The WWMB would like to assist you with your questions or concerns on Wastewater Management. Help us help you keep your septic system working properly. Please attend our Open Forum portions of the WWMB meetings which occur every second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall. Please see us there.
The Chepachet Wastewater Report is finished and available through the library or directly from the WWMB.