Free seminar offering tips on the care and maintenance of your septic system
If you live in a rural area, chances are you have a septic field on your property. Your quality of life depends on it working properly, and if it should cause problems, it can cost thousands of dollars to fix.
Despite this, most people hardly ever think about their septic system and do little or nothing to take care of it properly, says an organization that represents companies in the septic system industry.
“We live in an F-and-F Society – Flush and Forget,” says Lesley Desjardins, executive director of the Western Canada Onsite Wastewater Management Association (WCOWMA). “As long as it goes away, people think it works…it’s a bit of a simplistic attitude, but very common.”
That’s why the Desjardins Group is organizing “Septic Tank Awareness Week” from September 19 to 23.
“It’s not exactly a table conversation, so it’s a situation of mild neglect,” she says of septic tank maintenance. “You wouldn’t hesitate to take your car in for an oil change, but you wouldn’t think of having your septic system checked once a year to make sure it’s working properly.
So while you’re trying to bring in your harvest, chop wood for the winter, or get the kids settled in to school, WCOWMA hopes you’ll also spend a few hours learning about your septic system.
“Just because it’s blushing, where does it go?” Does it really work? Most of the processing actually takes place in the ground. So is it happening? she says people should ask themselves the question. “Are we in a position to potentially pollute an aquifer, a watercourse or a water source? We want to take care of this system so that none of these scenarios happen.
Properly designed and maintained systems effectively reduce or eliminate most threats to human health or the environment posed by pollutants in domestic wastewater, states WCOWMA. However, they require regular maintenance, otherwise they will not work properly.
“The role of this rests with the owner, because ultimately, once the system is designed and installed, the owner has control over how it is used, if it is maintained and if it performs as intended,” she says.
Troubled septic systems are expensive to repair or replace. Septic systems should be monitored regularly to ensure they are working properly and to ensure a long life. With one in four Canadians relying on septic fields to manage the waste they produce, there are likely thousands of systems that are failing or in disrepair.
To help you learn more about your septic field, WCOWMA is hosting a series of free webinars to share operating tips and information on the importance of septic system maintenance.
“There’s this misconception that septic systems are just about the plumbing,” says Desjardins. “You glue a bunch of pipes together, put it in trenches, put it in the ground and you’re done,” she says. “But it’s not like a garbage bag that we can throw away and forget. In fact, we don’t throw anything away. We are putting waste back into the environment, and it will eventually go back into the water table.
So, webinar attendees will get basic information about the water cycle, how processing actually happens in the soil, and the challenges that can impact your system. They will also learn what regular maintenance you should do and how to use it correctly – for example, what should and should not go down the drain.
Spoiler alert: don’t put flushable wipes, hygiene products, medications, paints or solvents in your drain field. They can kill your system very quickly, says Desjardins.
But there are also other more surprising tricks.
“People doing kidney dialysis at home – it pumps out a whole bunch of disinfectant used in the process and excess water,” she says. “The systems are not designed to handle that much water. Additionally, water softeners, iron filters, and reverse osmosis systems do not cause pollution on their own, but they can cause tremendous stress on the system. The systems are not designed to handle that much water.
The organization will also provide owners with manuals and records to track maintenance.
“Another misconception is that pumping your system is all the maintenance you need,” she says. “That’s a big part of it, but septic systems can have a pump, floats that need to be checked, filters that need to be cleaned, a high water level alarm to keep your system from backing up in the house. .”
The organization also offers suggestions on who to contact if something goes wrong, because if your system dies, it can get pretty ugly pretty quickly.
“You’re sitting in your barcalounge watching a hockey game, when suddenly you’re floating in a sea of ’brown trout’,” she says. “It can happen if you don’t take care of your system. It’s a huge expense and a terrible situation, but it can happen if we don’t take care of it.
Webinar dates and times are available on the WCOWMA website, https://www.wcowma.com/blog/septic-sense-2022/
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Valley Voice