department events

Operational Tips

Homeowners and residents can have a significant impact on SSTS performance. Using more water than the system was designed to handle can cause a failure. Also, disposal of chemical or excess organic matter, such as that from a garbage disposal, can destroy a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System. The following tips can help your system provide long-term, effective treatment of wastewater:

Use Water Efficiently
Excessive water use can cause system failure. The soil under the septic system must absorb all of the water used in the home. Too much water from clothes washers, dishwashers, toilets, bathtubs, showers and leaky faucets may not allow enough time for sludge and scum to separate in the septic tank and can saturate the soil. The less water used, the less water entering the sewage treatment system, resulting in less risk of system failure.

Minimize Solid Waste Disposal
What goes down the drain can have a major impact on your sewage treatment system. Many materials do not decompose and consequently, build up in your septic tank. Only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed down a toilet.  “Flushable wipes” and famine hygiene product should not be flushed. Dispose of it in some other way rather than putting it into your system.

Medications and your Septic System
Medications are a part of daily life for many people.  Have you thought about how your medications may affect your septic system and the treatment of wastewater?  Normal use of many medications, including over the counter drugs, will not harm your system.  However, antibiotics and certain strong medications such as those used in chemotherapy can affect the operation of your system.  

High concentrations of antibiotics or chemicals can kill or retard the growth of the bacteria in your septic tank and soil treatment area (drainfield or mound). These bacteria are necessary for proper operation of your system because they digest some of the organic matter entering the tank. They reduce the amount of solids in the tank and reduce the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of the effluent—the water leaving the tank to the soil treatment area. If the tank bacteria are destroyed, solids accumulate in the tank much faster and can create problems in the soil treatment area.

Steps you can take?  Click here for helpful information from the University of Minnesota Onsite Sewage Treatment Program. 

Keep Chemicals Out of Your System
Keep household chemicals out of your sewage treatment system.   Chemicals such as caustic drain openers, paints, pesticides, photographic chemicals, brake fluid, gasoline, and motor oil should not enter your system. Improper disposal of toxic chemicals down the drain is harmful to the environment, as well as the bacteria needed to break down wastes in the sewage treatment system.

Additives for Sewage Treatment Systems
Adding a stimulator or an enhancer to a septic tank to help it function or "to restore bacterial balance" is not necessary. The naturally occurring bacteria needed for the septic system to work are already present in human waste.