Citrus County Extension
A new resident recently expressed concern about buying a home with a sewage treatment plant. People in a centralized sewer system may never think about what happens after we flush or shower. Fortunately, minimal effort is required to avoid costly repairs or replacing a wastewater treatment plant.
The majority of local households have a sewage system. The resident’s system treats household waste from the toilet, sink, shower, dishwasher, etc. in an underground container called a septic tank. Wastewater is broken down by bacteria, solids settle and fat rises to the surface and forms a floating layer of foam. The liquid part of the waste then flows out of the tank and is directed through perforated pipes to the drain field at the bottom. Many pollutants are removed by seeping through the soil. With careful handling and assuming regular maintenance, the systems work relatively well.
Here are four easy ways to extend the life and functionality of a sewer system:
n Save water. Efficient use of water improves the operation of a system.
In other words, try not to do all of your laundry, take long showers, and run the dishwasher on the same day.
n Be sparing with disposal and minimize the grease in the drain. Instead of flushing greasy material down the drain, wipe off the grease with a used napkin. Vegetable waste also contains organic substances, which are easier to compost if possible.
n Nothing poisonous in the drain. No oils, pesticides, fertilizers or medicines. Regular detergents are fine. Unwanted medicines should be collected for an annual amnesty day conducted by the sheriff’s office or consult your pharmacist for proper disposal. Did you know that King’s Bay water samples regularly contain artificial sweeteners? Well, that can’t be blamed on the manatees!
n Do not turn the toilet into a trash can. Many household items, including “flushable” towels, will not degrade in your system.
Have a professional pump and check your sewage system every three to five years or so. However, it depends on how closely you follow the points above. More frequent attention is required if you regularly use a garbage disposal, wash part loads frequently, and / or have frequent overnight guests.
Maintain a healthy system to reduce some of the excess nutrients that get into the environment (although you need a high-end system to handle nutrient pollution really well). Since a new system can be very expensive, avoid an expensive and frustrating home improvement project by following these simple steps to extend the life of your sewer system.
Note: The Citrus County Extension Service provides assistance by phone at 352-527-5700 or by email at [email protected].