Failing systems and demand for new systems will drive the onsite industry

A report out of Michigan published on the website this week contains good news and bad news for septic system installers.

First the bad news: Homeowners in the state don’t seem to care about the condition of their septic systems. A program to check on septic systems in two counties discovered almost 1,000 failed septic systems and 300 houses with no septic system at all. In the latter case, waste was being pushed down a pipe and directly into a waterway. Further, state officials estimate 10 percent of the Michigan’s 1.3 million septic systems are in failure. According to the story, several counties that require point-of-sale system inspections are reporting 20 to 25 percent failure rates.

Now the good news: In recent history, onsite systems have taken on a stronger role across the state, growing in number as suburbs expand around population centers. Decentralized waste treatment systems were once prevalent only in small numbers in rural areas, but that has changed. As more systems are being installed, the story quotes Larry Stephens, president of the Michigan Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, saying that properly maintained onsite systems are “more sustainable than the centralized treatment system.’’

Related: Blog: Evidence of a crumbling onsite system infrastructure in Indiana

I might say that all of the statistics shared in the report are troubling and, on one level, very bad news for everyone in Michigan. When there are a vast number of system failures, the quality of the groundwater is threatened. And failing systems, though not the fault of the onsite installer, can be seen as reflecting badly on decentralized treatment in general.

But the one over-arching message in this story, to me, is that your work as onsite installers will be seen as vital and necessary to ensure the safe supply of drinking water. And all of these system failures – if they are dealt with by health departments and homeowners – will mean there’s a lot of work ahead for our industry. You are on the front lines of a clean-water movement.

Check out the Michigan story here:

Related: Blog: Here’s a novel idea: Homebuyers should check out the septic system

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