Environmental Impact of Septic Systems and What You Can Do to Help

July 17, 2023 6:28 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Environmental Impact of Septic Systems and What You Can Do to Help

Septic systems are one of the most common types of wastewater treatment systems used in rural areas. However, they can have a significant impact on the environment if properly maintained. In this blog post, we will explore the environmental impact of septic systems and provide some steps you can take to help minimize their impact.

What is a Septic System?

A septic system is an on-site wastewater treatment system that is typically used in rural areas where there is no access to a centralized sewer system. The system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield. Wastewater from the home flows into the septic tank, where solids settle to the bottom and liquids rise to the top. The liquid enters the drainfield, where it is filtered through the soil before entering groundwater.

Environmental Impact of Septic Systems

One of the biggest environmental impacts of septic systems is the potential contamination of groundwater and surface water. If the septic system is not properly maintained, the groundwater and surface water can be contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates, and other pollutants found in wastewater. This can pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Another impact is excess nutrient loading in water bodies. Septic systems can discharge large amounts of nutrients into nearby water sources. This can cause an increase in algae growth, leading to a reduction in dissolved oxygen levels. This, in turn, can harm aquatic life and impact the overall health of the ecosystem.

Additionally, if a septic system fails, it can lead to the backup of wastewater into the home or the surrounding groundwater. This can result in a foul odor, property damage, and the spread of diseases.

What You Can Do to Help

Proper Maintenance

The most important thing you can do to help minimize the environmental impact of your septic system is to properly maintain it. This includes:

– Pumping the septic tank regularly: The frequency of pumping depends on factors such as the system size, number of occupants, and wastewater generated. Septic tanks need to be pumped every 3-5 years to prevent solids from building up, which can lead to clogs and backups.

– Avoiding flushing non-biodegradable materials: Items such as feminine hygiene products, paper towels, and wipes can clog the septic system and lead to backups. Only flush biodegradable toilet paper and waste.

– Avoiding the use of chemicals: Harsh chemicals can harm the beneficial bacteria in the septic system that are responsible for breaking down the waste. Avoid flushing chemicals such as bleach, drain cleaners, and other household cleaners down the drain.

Water Conservation

Water conservation is another way to help minimize your septic system’s environmental impact. Reducing water usage can help reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated in the system. Some ways to conserve water include:

– Fixing leaks: Leaking faucets and toilets can waste a significant amount of water. Fix leaks as soon as they are discovered.

– Installing low-flow fixtures: Low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets can significantly reduce water usage.

– Avoiding running water unnecessarily: Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving can help conserve water.

Proper Drainfield Placement

Proper drainfield placement is also important in minimizing the environmental impact of a septic system. The drainfield should be located at least 50 feet away from any wells and surface water sources. Additionally, it should not be located in an area with a high water table or in an area prone to flooding.


Septic systems are an important wastewater treatment system in rural areas. However, they can have a significant impact on the environment if not properly maintained. By following these simple steps, you can help minimize the environmental impact of your septic system. Proper maintenance, water conservation, and proper drainfield placement are just a few ways to help protect the environment and ensure the longevity of your septic system.

Got questions about your septic system? Let us help! Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

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