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Will the use of septic tanks could cause pollution of ground water?

Updated on September 25, 2013

People have been using ground for disposal of waste water long before the invention of septic and sewerage systems. Ground contains microbes which feed on wastes of humans and animals, and turning them into nutrients which can be beneficial to ground.

Basically a septic system will treat waste water at two levels. First it will be treated inside the septic tank. Septic tanks contain considerate amounts of microbes which will neutralize half of the waste water. Here it settles solids from waste water. The scum layer (floats at the top) and the sludge layer forms (forms at the bottom). The water in the middle of the tank is clear and this is the part which drains into ground. The rest of the waste water is filtered and neutralized by microbes in the soil before it reaches the ground water.

Population density is also an ignored fact a lot of times. Too many households in a small congested area may pollute ground water.

Septic tank outlet filters

Improper use or damage to septic systems may contaminate ground water

A well-maintained system will run without a problem for ages. And it is also very safe. The waste water is treated well before draining to ground and ground neutralizes the rest.

The size of the septic tank and drain-field must be according to the number of people who are using it. The size of the drain-field also depends on factors like how well the ground absorbs water. In places where ground absorbs water slowly, you might need to install a bigger drain field covering a large area.

Always keep in mind that ground has a capacity to filter out waste water. Too many septic systems in a small area will likely pollute ground water. If it exceeds the filtering capacity of soil, waste water may rise to the top flooding the area around the tank and drain field.

Build up of sludge can cause solids to seep through pipes and into the drain field, if this happens it might cause blockage of drain field having you to replace them. Septic tank outlet filters can prevent too many solids from passing into the drain field.

The septic system is not designed to fully decompose human waste. Instead it settles out the solids and drains the liquid into the ground. Leakage of the system can spread diseases and contaminate the environment.

Tips for maintaining a healthy septic system

A well-maintained septic system is very safe and efficient, it can last for several years with proper maintenance.

No matter how well you take care of your septic system, eventually it needs to be cleaned and pumped. Make sure it is pumped every 3 or 5 years and inspected on a regular basis.

Many states in the the U.S require you to have a reserve drain field in case if the current one ceases to function.

Things to keep in mind

  • Never flush things which could clog the pipes. (plastic bags, clothes)
  • Never flush dangerous chemicals which could kill the microbes in septic tank. Flushing too much detergents can have a negative impact on the performance of microbes.
  • The septic tank should be pumped once every 3 to 5 years. If not pumped, it may start to draw solid particles from the tank to drain field causing blockage.
  • Trees should be avoided near septic systems. Roots can cause lots of damage to the tank and pipes.
  • Growing grass is a good way to cover the drain field. And do not drive vehicles on the drain field, as it may cause damage to the pipes.
  • Septic tank outlet filters can be used to filter outlet of tank. This will ensure that solids doesn't get passed into drain field.

Where Septic systems should be used

It should be noted that ground has a certain capacity to filter and neutralize waste water. If too many septic tanks are built on a certain area, it may exceed the waste water treatment capacity of the soil and contaminate ground water. Roughly an area of 1 square mile should not contain septic tanks for more than 40 households.

Septic tanks are suitable for households in very isolated areas, or in towns where population density is not very high. It will not be suitable for places like Cities with lots of high-rise buildings.

Preserve the health of ground water

Everyone has a responsibility to keep the environment green as much as possible. Nowadays a lot of people have switched their drinking water to bottled mineral water. Even still, if you never use ground water. The ground water should not be polluted as it may not affect you directly but for sure it will affect us all at some level. In some areas, vegetation uses ground water. Pollution of ground water will affect the environment.

  1. Even if you never use a septic system or not. Dumping dangerous chemicals onto the ground is not good at all. Things you dump in to soil won't disappear, either it will evaporate or mix with ground water. Contaminated ground water can leak into ponds, rivers and also into the sea. The harmful effects are numerous including deadening of reefs and fishes. Contribute to a more greener and a healthier environment by preventing dumping of dangerous chemicals to ground.
  2. Ground water is commonly used for irrigation purposes. Polluted ground water will also affect the agriculture on a very large scale.


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