Funds Available for Septic Systems

By Haywood Waterways Association | Dec 26, 2013
Courtesy of: Haywood Waterways Association Failing septic systems degrade water quality

Haywood Waterways and the Haywood County Environmental Health Department received $30,000 to repair failing septic systems in Haywood County. The grant was received from the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and continues the partners’ efforts to reduce bacteria contamination in local waterways. The partners are seeking homeowners who need assistance.

Since 2006, the partnership has received $135,000 in grant funds and made 31 repairs. The repairs have prevented as much as 11,000 gallons per day of untreated human wastewater from degrading local waterways.

If a septic system fails, everything dumped in sinks and flushed down toilets can leak into groundwater and streams, including human fecal waste, laundry detergents, cleaning chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Bacteria and viruses from the human digestive tract can cause ear infections, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, dysentery, and other serious health problems.

Clues of a failing system include slow plumbing, foul odors, excessive grass growth, soggy soil, and standing ground water near the system.

The most common cause of problems is excess water use. Conserve water by repairing leaky faucets, using low-flow fixtures, and staggering showers and use of kitchen and laundry appliances. A leaking faucet that drips 20 drips per minute can waste up to 700 gallon of water a year. Using a 1.5 gallon per minute shower head uses about 10 less gallons for a 10 minute shower than a standard 2.5 gpm unit.

There are many other recommendations for keeping a system in good working order. Proper care and maintenance is ultimately cheaper than paying for repairs.

Don’t flush household chemicals, such as bleach, disinfectants, paints, solvents, pesticides, antifreeze, antibiotics, and medications. Also, limit the use of anti-bacterial soap and drain cleaners. Chemicals in these products kill the bacteria that purify sewage.

Don’t flush hanging toilet cleaners, coffee grounds, cooking oils, and feminine hygiene products. These can clog the system and cause raw sewage to back up into the house.

Direct roof drains and sump pump drains away from septic drain fields. Flooding keeps soil from absorbing and cleaning wastewater.

Don’t park automobiles or other heavy items over a system. They can crush the drain lines.

Plant only grass over and near your septic system; roots from trees or shrubs may clog and damage the absorption field.

Regular pumping of the septic tank is the best preventative maintenance a homeowner can do. A typical 1,000 gallon tank for a family of four should be pumped about every three years. Pumping prevents solids from clogging the drain lines and extends the life of the system.

Haywood Waterways and the Haywood County Environmental Health Department will continue the septic repair program as long as grant funds are available. Interested homeowners should contact the Environmental Health Department at (828) 452-6682. Grant funds are used to pay 75% of the total repair cost. Projects are prioritized by severity of failure and proximity to a waterway.