Have you checked your septic system?

Community life - 16 May 2017

Properties where connection to town sewer is not available rely on on-site sewage management systems (septic systems) to treat and dispose of wastewater. Residents with this type of system are encouraged to regularly check their systems for signs of failure, to avoid potential health and environmental complications.  

Kempsey Shire Council’s Environmental Officer, Jack Dickey, said key warning signs which may indicate a system is failing and is in need of maintenance include when the effluent is ponding on or around the trench area, when there is an unpleasant smell and if household sinks are slow to drain.

“Failing septic systems have the potential to pose severe public and environmental health risks with a range of bacteria and viruses found in wastewater,” Mr Dickey said.

“Serious illness and diseases can be caused by direct or indirect contact with wastewater.

“Groundwater and surface water contamination is another major concern which can be caused by failing or inappropriately managed septic systems.”

Common causes of septic system failure include aging systems, inappropriate design, overloading the system, lack of maintenance.

What you put down the drains and toilets has a lot to do with how well the septic system will perform. Large quantities of bleach, disinfectant and nappy soakers in the system via the sink, washing machine or toilet can cause failures.

By frequently monitoring your septic system issues can be identified early and the risks of health complications and irreparable damage to the system can be minimised.

Council’s website contains background information and fact sheets on how septic systems work, management and the regulations concerning them, including the inspection program that Council conducts.

“Residents can also view their conditions of approval on Council’s website to gain an understanding of the requirements for their specific system,” Mr Dickey said.

For more information go to Council’s website: www.kempsey.nsw.gov.au/septic or contact Council on 6566 3200