Sept. 14 to 18 is Septic Awareness Week, and the Capital Regional District and Western Canada Onsite Wastewater Management Association urge you to consider both what goes down the drain, and how you maintain your septic system.
“Septic systems are an economical and efficient method of treating household wastewater and when functioning properly, are also environmentally sustainable, distributing treated wastewater onsite and recharging aquifers,” says Glenn Harris, senior manager of the Environmental Protection team.
However, when septic systems are neglected and malfunction, untreated wastewater and nutrients can leak into our local waterways.
Whether at home or the cottage, systems that are not maintained – often underground and out-of-sight – can not only cost you money in the long run, but can contribute to nutrient enrichment of sensitive water bodies.
Proper maintenance matters
Proper maintenance means more than simply pumping out your tank.
“Think of it like your vehicle: A properly operating car requires more than an oil change,” Harris explains. “In addition to regular pump-outs, keeping your septic system working as it’s designed typically requires regular inspections and protection that comes from paying attention to what goes down the drain.”
And like vehicle maintenance that keeps your car operating at its best for years to come, maintaining your septic system also helps avoid costly repairs and early replacement.
Protect, Inspect and Maintain your septic system:
- Protect your system – Your septic system is designed to handle human waste and toilet paper only, termed the “Three Ps.” All other household products, detergents, chemicals and personal care products can negatively impact the system and be passed on to groundwater supplies. Use environmentally friendly cleaners and don’t flush items like feminine hygiene products and wipes, even if they claim to be flushable.
- Inspect your system – If you don’t know where your components are located, if you’re planning to buy or sell a home or if you suspect your system is malfunctioning, an inspection is a good idea. The Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) provide guidelines for septic system inspection.
- Maintain your system – Regular maintenance is critical to the lifespan of a system, and a well maintained system can last a long time. Pump-outs should occur every two to five years, and components should be examined regularly.
To learn more about how to care for your residential septic system and to enter to win a free septic system inspection, visit www.crd.bc.ca/septic