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Septic Systems

Septic System Improvements to Protect Nearby Water Sources

As a homeowner, there are several steps you can take to prevent your home’s septic system from impacting nearby water sources. Some are simple while others can be more involved and expensive. Consult with a professional in your area before making significant upgrades to your septic system.

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Table on Septic System Improvements to Protect Nearby Water Sources

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1. Toilets

Any chemicals or medicines that you flush down the toilet could end up in surface water, so don’t use your toilet as a trashcan. Contact your local hazardous waste disposal facility to ask about how to correctly dispose of these materials.

Using a composting or urine diverting toilet prevents most nitrogen and phosphorus from entering your septic system.

Learn more about properly disposing of waste.
2. Cleaning Products Using household cleaning products that are phosphate-free reduces the total amount of phosphorus in wastewater.  Learn more about properly disposing of waste.
3. Garbage Disposal Throwing out or composting food waste instead of putting it through a garbage disposal reduces the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater. It also helps extend the life of a septic system. Learn more about properly disposing of waste.
4. Proper Septic System Maintenance Regularly inspecting and pumping your septic tank protects your system and minimizes the risk of failure. Learn more about inspecting and pumping out your septic system.
5. Septic System Upgrade Installation of an advanced treatment system that removes nitrogen or phosphorus can help protect nearby surface waters. Newer technology is being developed for increased nitrogen or phosphorus removal in the drainfield. Shallow, pressurized wastewater flow or specialized drainage material can increase removal. Learn more about advanced treatment systems.
6. Setback Distance When installing a new septic system or upgrading an existing one, consider the setback distance between the drainfield and any bodies of water around your home. Contamination is less likely the farther away your septic system is from a body of water.  Consult your local health department about required setback distances in your area.

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