SepticSmart Week is a nationwide initiative through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise awareness about the need for proper care and maintenance of septic systems.
An estimated 60,000 households in Indiana’s three Lake Michigan counties depend on septic systems to treat wastewater. Failure to maintain a septic system can lead to backups and overflows. This can result in costly repairs, polluted waterways and risks to public health and the environment. Proper care and maintenance is critical to septic system function and long-term performance.
The Northwest Indiana Septic System Coordination Work Group, comprising federal, state, and local governments and agencies, state and county health departments, not-for-profit groups, and interested individuals, will provide homeowners with information and assistance on the proper care for septic systems.
Tips for septic maintenance, include:
Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor, and have their tank pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years. Many septic system failures occur during the holiday season. Therefore, EPA encourages homeowners to get their septic systems inspected and serviced now before inspectors’ schedules fill up around the holidays.
Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drain field.
Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can clog and 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 drain field, which could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.
SepticSmart week is part of EPA’s year-round SepticSmart program. In addition to educating property owners, the program is an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents. For more information, visit epa.gov/septicsmart.
To receive EPA SepticSmart Brochures for local distribution, contact Dorreen Carey, special projects coordinator, Indiana DNR Lake Michigan Coastal Program, at dcarey@dnr.IN.gov or (219) 921-0863
For information about local septic system regulations, contact your county health department at:
— La Porte County Health Department, (219) 326-6808 ext. 2200, or laportecounty.org
— Porter County Health Department, Environmental Health Division, (219) 465-3525, opt. #5, or porterco.org.
— Lake County Health Department, (219) 755-3655.