SepticSmart Week a step in the right direction

When I saw that this week (Sept. 23-27) has been designated as SepticSmart Week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I thought to myself, “Right on, it’s about time! There’s Arbor Day to keep our trees top of mind, and Earth Day to get people thinking green. Our septic systems are just as important when you consider our continued health and well being.’’

The EPA is using this week to remind homeowners to check their septic systems and make sure they’re functioning properly. The agency, along with Partners for Decentralized Wastewater Management Program, believe it’s important to raise awareness to the way millions of people use onsite systems to handle their wastewater stream. I’ll share a couple of anecdotes that reinforce the need for folks to better understand how their septic systems work.

First, a system inspector recently told me it’s not that unusual for a homeowner to call and say he or she just learned they had a septic system and they don’t know what that means. They’ve lived in the house five years and they assumed the wastewater just poured into a city sewer.

Related: U.S. EPA launches septic system program

Then last week, I talked to a woman who’d lived in the country and had a septic system most of her life, from when she was a little girl. Someone had just told her it’s important to spread out her clothes laundering so she won’t overload the septic system. “I never knew that. I just always washed the clothes any time I wanted to. That was interesting to learn,’’ she told me.

So as you go about your work this week, don’t be shy about stopping and talking to folks you meet about septic system maintenance. The more we can raise awareness about how septic systems function, the more accepted this decentralized wastewater approach will be.

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