September is for Septic Systems

Though I am a septic skeptic, I still depend on my septic system and want to become a responsible system owner even as I wean us off the practice of dumping in our drinking water. I want to encourage others to be responsible septic system owners, too, so I will do what I can to put together an awareness-raising drive with the help of materials in the toolkit provided by the EPA for septic-smart week (Sept. 19 - 23). At least I can put up some posters; maybe do some door-to-door handouts, making initial contact with homeowners who may be good candidates for conversion to humanure composting.

One thing I've never done that the EPA recommends is hire an inspector every three years to see if my septic system is developing problems. Since I have violated several other guidelines over my 11 years of ownership pertaining to protecting the integrity of my system, I may actually have a failed or failing system and not even know it. Most homeowners are probably in the same boat, not even thinking of having an inspection done until it's time to sell. An inspection now may be timely for us in that regard, as well.

Just looking into the topic of septic systems has given me some other useful awareness. I was planning to plant some shrubs over my drain field, and now, having learned better, I'm looking forward to planting self-seeding annual flowers there instead. There might also be a good area near the end of the drain field for my humanure compost bins. If that somehow negatively affects the capacity of the septic system, the reduced load in the tank may be enough to compensate.

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