Septic systems offer several key advantages for homeowners. Not only do they typically cost less over time, but they ensure better water efficiency and are more environmentally friendly than public sewer lines, in part because they use naturally occurring bacteria in the ground to treat wastewater.
However, owning a septic system also means having to think beyond your own drainfield—and sometimes even beyond your property line—to ensure you are taking steps to protect the health of and safety of your family and nearby water sources.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION CAN PROTECT WELLS AND LOCAL WATERWAYS
As long as they are properly installed and maintained, septic systems should never be a problem for drinking water wells or surrounding lakes, ponds, rivers and coastal waters. Below are five important steps to take prior to and after installation of your septic tank to avoid contamination.
1. MAKE SURE YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM IS FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM YOUR DRINKING WATER WELL
Private wells allow homeowners to obtain a potable water source by accessing the flow of groundwater beneath the surface; the farther away your well is from your septic system, the less likely it is that your drinking water will be contaminated.
To decrease the possibility of contamination, make sure your well is not in the path of groundwater flow coming from your septic system. Because most states and counties require a minimum horizontal distance (called a setback) between septic systems and wells, it is important to check local guidelines. In Maricopa County, for example, the minimum setback distance between a septic system and a drinking water well is 100 feet.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR WELL IS DEEP ENOUGH
Depth and soil quality are also important when it comes to avoiding contamination. Deeper wells drilled into solid bedrock are less likely to be polluted by contaminants from wastewater, while shallow wells dug in sand or loose soil could be problematic.
3. FREQUENTLY TEST YOUR DRINKING WATER TO ENSURE ITS SAFETY
More than 13 million U.S. households get their drinking water from private wells. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends getting your well water tested at least once a year to ensure it is safe to drink, and more frequently if you have children, expectant mothers or elderly family members living in the home. Click here for more information about what to test for and where to get your water tested.
4. REGULARLY INSPECT YOUR WELL FOR CRACKS IN THE WELL CAP OR CASING
A cracked or poorly sealed well cap (also called a well cover) or casing (which supports the pipe and other parts of the well) can increase the chances of contaminants entering the well and polluting your drinking water. Periodically check both the cap and casing to ensure they are in good condition.
5. HAVE YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM PUMPED AND SERVICED ON A REGULAR BASIS
Contamination problems can occur when homeowners are remiss in monitoring and taking care of their tanks and other septic components. In addition to conserving water and flushing only toilet paper and waste down the drain, the best way to keep your septic system running smoothly is to have your tank inspected annually to ensure a potential problem or issue does not get out of hand.
Having your septic system pumped every one to three years, depending on the size of your family, will also help to remove the buildup of solids from the bottom of the tank and keep your drinking water and nearby water sources safe from contaminants.
TIME FOR A CHECKUP? CALL THE EXPERTS
If all this talk about clean water has you wondering when your last septic system inspection was, it may be time to give us a call. The experienced technicians at Paradise Valley Septic have been providing top-quality service to home and business owners in the Phoenix Valley and surrounding areas since 1958—from installation to everyday maintenance. Contact us today to ensure your septic system is in tip-top shape.