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Septic & Storm Water Drainage

Septic tanks hold water that can carry harmful bacteria and micro-organisms, that could potentially come into contact and pollute storm water, groundwater, creeks, rivers, lakes, and streams.

Managing stormwater is a key component of maintaining your septic system. Stormwater isn’t supposed to end up in your septic tank. Unless you have a hole in your tank or your tank cover is damaged, a rainstorm – even one that’s heavy – isn’t likely to flood your tank. That doesn’t mean rain won’t affect your septic system, though.

Septic, Stormwater, & Groundwater

Stormwater is water that comes from precipitation and ice/snow melt. This water can be relatively clean, or it can pick up a variety of contaminants, such as oil, gasoline, fertilizers, farm runoff and other unhealthy pollutants. You don’t want any of these substances reaching the water table (the upper surface of our groundwater). Groundwater is where your drinking water comes from, whether you have your own private well, or it comes from the local municipality. Although the mix of stormwater and pollutants might soak into the ground and reach the water table by other means, the soil in your septic field is relatively loose. This loose material offers a pretty straight path to the groundwater. By itself, that’s a very good reason to keep drainage out of your drain field!

Septic & Drainage

Your septic system depends on good drainage in your septic field. Saturated soil won’t accept more water. If your septic field is soaked with rain water, your septic drainage has nowhere to go. Effluent from your septic tank might back up into the system, or it might pool on the ground in the septic field. Neither scenario is desirable. In fact, they can be dangerous to your health, your home, and the long-term operation of your septic system.

Managing stormwater is important to the general health of your septic field. It’s critical to know the location of your septic field. You must also ensure that you direct stormwater runoff from your home and property away from your septic field.

Septic & Rain Events

During rain events, the drainfield may become too saturated for the wastewater to infiltrate into the soil. It is best to reduce water usage in your home:

  • You've heard the saying if it's yellow, let it mellow. It's also better that you skip your shower than to experience a septic backup into your home.

  • Avoid the use of washing machines and dishwashers during rain events.

  • Routine maintenance of your septic system is required to remove the settled solids and maintain capacity to treat the wastewater.

  • As contradictory as it may sound, do NOT pump your septic system during times of flooding or saturated conditions. Hydrostatic pressure from the saturated soil can cause empty septic tanks to become buoyant and pop out of the ground. This can lead to costly damage of the inlet and outlet pipes and additional risk for you and your family.

Septic Care & Maintenance

A few signs that a septic system requires maintenance may include wastewater backing up into household drains, a strong odor around the septic tank and/or drainfield, and bright green, spongy grass appearing on the drainfield, even during dryer weather.

  • Inspect/clean your septic tank regularly to avoid overflows. You can find a registered septic professional through the Butler County Health Department.

  • Do not park or drive vehicles on any part of your septic system.

  • Do not plant trees or shrubs over or near your septic system, the roots can damage the pipes and tank.

  • Flush only human and animal waste, toilet paper and wastewater. Non-biodegradable items such as diapers, condoms, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, cigarette butts, or cat litter should not be flushed

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