Hey Everyone – Great reminder that preventative maintenance goes a long way!
Hey Everyone – Great reminder that preventative maintenance goes a long way!
Published: Aug. 3, 2015 – MSU Today, a publication of Michigan State University
Contact(s): Mackenzie Kastl, Joan Rose
The notion that septic tanks prevent fecal bacteria from seeping into rivers and lakes simply doesn’t hold water, says a new Michigan State University study.
Water expert Joan Rose and her team of water detectives have discovered freshwater contamination stemming from septic systems. Appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is the largest watershed study of its kind to date, and provides a basis for evaluating water quality and health implications and the impact of septic systems on watersheds.
“All along, we have presumed that on-site wastewater disposal systems, such as septic tanks, were working,” said Rose, Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research. “But in this study, sample after sample, bacterial concentrations were highest where there were higher numbers of septic systems in the watershed area.”
Until now, it was assumed that the soil could filter human sewage, and that it works as a natural treatment system. Discharge-to-soil methods, a simple hole dug in the ground under an outhouse, for example, have been used for many years. Unfortunately, these systems do not keep E. coli and other pathogens from water supplies, Rose said.
“For years we have been seeing the effects of fecal pollution, but we haven’t known where it is coming from,” she said. “Pollution sources scattered in an area – called non-point – have historically been a significant challenge in managing water quality.”
The researchers used source-tracking markers, a novel method Rose calls “CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) for water,” to sample 64 river systems in Michigan for E. coli and the human fecal bacteria B-theta. Advances in source-tracking allow water scientists to track down the origin of non-point pollution more accurately than ever before.
Michigan, Florida and South Carolina, as well as resort areas near lakes all across the United States, rely heavily on septic tanks for human sewage. Though each state regulates septic tanks differently, more needs to be done in order to ensure humans are not contaminating surface waters by using septic tanks.
Continuing to use long-trusted methods of waste disposal systems may come at a hefty price, added Rose. The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest survey for capitol improvement identifies the need to invest $298 billion over the next 20 years on wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to meet the Clean Water Act public safety goals of swimmable and fishable waters.
“This study has important implications on the understanding of relationships between land use, water quality and human health as we go forward,” she said. “Better methods will improve management decisions for locating, constructing and maintaining on-site wastewater treatment systems. It’s financially imperative that we get it right.”
This research was supported by grants from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Tipping Points Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab) and EPA (112013 and 118539). Contributing scientists were Marc Verhougstraete, College of Public Health, University of Arizona; Sherry Martin, Anthony Kendall and David Hyndman, Department of Geological Sciences, MSU.
Joan B. Rose, Homer Nowlin Chair in water research, Michigan State University. Photo by K.A. Stepnitz
Yesterday we talked about the first stop in the system – the tank itself. The tank must be allowed to drain. If it can’t breathe (like a clogged furnace filter) then things start getting backed up – quickly! And you don’t want sewage backups spilling out all over your new hardwood or carpet. The leach field (or “field lines” or “drain field”) could be compared to the air filter in your car’s engine or home’s furnace.
Effluent from the septic tank flows by gravity or is pumped to a leach field for disposal. The wastewater effluent is absorbed by soil particles and moves both horizontally and vertically through the soil pores. The dissolved organic material in the effluent is removed by bacteria which live in the top ten feet of the soil. As the effluent moves through the soil, the temperature and chemical characteristics of the wastewater change and create an unfavorable habitat for most bacteria and viruses. Therefore, as the septic tank effluent moves through the soil, organic material and microorganisms are removed. The wastewater generally percolates downward through soil and eventually enters a groundwater aquifer. A portion of the wastewater moves upwards by capillary action and is removed at the ground surface by evaporation and transpiration of plants.
A leach field consists of a series of four-inch diameter perforated distribution pipelines placed in two-to-three foot wide trenches. The perforated pipe is placed on top of gravel which is also used to backfill around the pipe. The gravel promotes drainage and reduces root growth near the pipeline. Untreated building paper or straw is placed over the gravel to prevent fine soil particles from migrating into the gravel. The building paper or straw does not reduce the evapotranspiration of the wastewater. A minimum topsoil cover is placed over the gravel to protect the leach field, prevent contact with the wastewater and reduce infiltration from rain and snow.
Septi-Zone helps prevent solid waste from entering the drain field by promoting maximum breakdown of solids. Using Septi-Zone on a regular basis will keep the drain field happy and flowing smoothly with no need to pump the tank. Remember, your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. Septi-Zone is the best product on the market and we can back it up with this guarantee.
Septic Tank 101 – The Tank is the First Stop
Let’s admit it – talking about a septic tank is not very fun. The “septic tank” conversation is probably not going to come up at the next office party. But for those of us blessed to be on a septic system instead of a sewage system, here are the basics: The septic tank is a big box, typically underground, in which sewage is collected and allowed to decompose through bacterial activity before draining by means of a leach field.
From Wikipedia: A septic tank is a key component of the septic system, a small-scale sewage treatment system common in areas that lack connection to main sewage pipes provided by local governments or private corporations…. In North America, approximately 25% of the population relies on septic tanks, including some suburbs and small towns as well as rural areas. Indianapolis is one example of a large city where many of the city’s neighborhoods still rely on separate septic systems. Since septic systems require large drainfields, they are not suitable for densely built cities.
Periodic preventive maintenance is required to remove solids that remain and gradually fill the tank, reducing its efficiency. Maintenance requires regular pumping to remove these. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, in the United States it is the home owners’ responsibility to maintain their septic systems. Those who ignore this requirement will eventually be faced with costly repairs when solids escape the tank and clog the clarified liquid effluent disposal system. A properly maintained system will likely not need replacement during the homeowner’s lifetime.
Just like changing the oil in your car or the air filters in your home’s furnace, the septic system must be maintained. And this is where Septi-Zone comes in – regular use will keep everything running, and eliminates the need for pumping.
The tank is only part of the picture. The leach field is where major things can go wrong. Tomorrow we will take a look at the leach field and get a complete picture of the septic system.
Septi-Zone is THE BEST septic system cleaner on the market. Period.
Not all septic tank cleaners are created equal. SEPTI-ZONE is a far superior product that has been helping home and business owners for 40+ years! Now you can save money by avoiding costly pumping jobs – simply pour Septi-Zone into your commode, flush….. and let it go to work – with results generally visible overnight.