LENEXA, Kan. — Sept. 21, 2015 — During the week of Sept. 21-25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to raise awareness about the importance of properly caring for and maintaining septic systems, according to a press release.

Designated as SepticSmart Week, the agency is working with state, local and industry partners to promote the initiative, noted the release. Homeowners are also encouraged to share the responsibility in their septic tanks’ maintenance needs.

Septic and other on-site wastewater systems serve about 20 percent of American households and 33 percent of new construction (domestic and commercial), reported the release. Available technologies enable these systems to achieve the same treatment level realized by traditional sewer systems.

Effluent treated from septic systems is reused and recharges local ground aquifers, so septic systems are regarded as green infrastructure, shared the release. The systems provide viable, low-cost methods of wastewater treatment for rural and small communities, playing a critical role in U.S. wastewater infrastructure.

Homeowners who “flush and forget” could experience backups and overflows, which can necessitate expensive repairs, waterway pollution, and health and environmental risks, noted the release. Maintenance tips include:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially 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 drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

Access the SepticSmart Week toolkit here.

Click here to find the entire release.