Your well and septic system

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I heard Bruce Davidson speak about the Walkerton water tragedy. Although that was a town’s system, it reminded me of problems we have in our area with septic systems. For my readers who live in communities with sewage systems, here is a chance to learn about your country friends.

Do you have your septic system emptied/checked every three to five years? Families with more than two people, heavy use of washing machines, dishwashers and showers should have their system checked every three years; those using less water can stretch to five years.

There is an excellent free booklet put out by the United Counties called “How Well is your Well, a Homeowner’s Guide to Safe Wells and Septic Systems,” which may be available at the Conservation Authorities offices.

Here are a few signs of trouble: Grass over the tile bed is unusually green or spongy to walk on. Plumbing takes longer to drain. You can smell sewage. Grey or black liquids surface in your yard. A test of your well or your neighbour’s shows contamination.

And there is the point: your well. A poorly maintained septic system can poison your well. Bottled water is not the answer! The answer is a properly maintained septic system and a clean well. By the way, don’t forget to have your well water tested annually.

For new owners in a rural area, if you are not sure where your septic system is, ask a neighbour who has lived in the area for a while. The real estate agent should have told you all about your septic system.

There are some things one should do: Keep a maintenance record—it is good for you and at time of resale. Make sure a licenced company services your system and do it regularly. Plant grass over the leaching field; it will help prevent erosion and absorb excess water. Divert surface runoff away from the leaching field. Last and not least, conserve water.

Here are some don’ts: Don’t use your toilet as a trash can or chemical disposal unit; don’t use more soap or detergents than you need; don’t drive over or park cars etc. on the tile bed; don’t pave the tile bed; don’t drain your water softener backwashes into the septic system; don’t add “starters” or “conditioners.”

A healthy well and a healthy septic system keep you, your family and your neighbours healthy, too.

Yours environmentally.

Geographic location: Walkerton

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