Issue 13, March 2000

Features in this issue:

SEPTIC SYSTEM OWNER’S GUIDE

Onsite systems are “out of sight, out of mind” for most homeowners. Those who do realize where their wastewater goes may have questions: “I know it’s probably time to have my system inspected;  I’m not sure when the last time was.” “It’s probably time to pump my tank, but how long can I wait?”

The best way to manage your onsite system is to keep all of your records in one place – a diagram showing the outline of your system, your record of inspections and dates of pumping, any work or repair you have had done on the system. If you don’t already have a file on your system, you should. We have a really good place for you to start: The Septic System Owner’s Guide from the University of Minnesota Extension Service. This file folder-sized booklet has pockets for keeping important papers, a space for the layout of your system, blanks for information on the installation and upkeep, as well as an Owner’s Guide with important information on the care and feeding of your onsite system. These booklets are available through The Farm Building Plan Service for $6.00. Please call Carol Sikler at 765/494-1174 or email carols@purdue.edu to order your copy. We will be happy to ship it with an invoice.

VIDEO FROM U OF MINN TELECONFERENCE AVAILABLE

The Onsite Wastewater Disposal Project has acquired a copy of the videotape from the October, 1999 satellite teleconference. Please call Carol Sikler (765/494-1174) or email carols@purdue.edu to add your name to the list to borrow it (2 week limit, please).
 
 

Feedback: Got an idea for the On-site newsletter? Send your ideas to carols@purdue.edu!





INDIANA–GREAT FOR CORN; NOT SO GREAT FOR ON-SITE

In the early 1980s Purdue ran the RWASTE program on all of the soils profiles found in Indiana. According to the site selection criteria in the ISDH rule at the time, 80% of the land area in Indiana was unsuitable for conventional septic systems.

While the criteria for septics in use by ISDH is somewhat more forgiving than the one used by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the following table certainly points out some of the problems tht can be expected. It was computed by Bill Hosteter, NRCS, using the Indiana NRCS Soils database and uses the following criteria that rates soils that are considered severe for treating residential wastewater.
 
Property
Limit
Flooding
Frequent occasions
Depth to bedrock
<40 inches
Depth to cemented pan or layer
<40 in
Ponding
yes
Depth to high water table
<4 ft
Low permeability (24-60" depth)
<0.6 in/hr
High permeability (24-60" depth)
>6.0 in/hr
Slope
>15%
Large stones depth 73"
>50%
% of Co with severe soil limitations
County name
Delaware Co
*
Tipton County
100.00%
Wells County
100.00%
Brown County
99.80%
Bartholomew County (portions)
99.80%
Scott County
99.80%
Adams County
99.70%
Starke County
99.70%
Grant County
99.60%
Switzerland County
99.10%
Blackford Co
99.00%
Madison County
99.00%
Owen County
98.90%
Dearborn County
98.60%
Ohio County
98.60%
Decatur County
98.40%
Pulaski County
98.30%
Huntington County
98.20%
Perry County
98.10%
Franklin County
97.70%
Newton County
97.70%
Jasper County
97.40%
Allen County
97.20%
Hancock County
97.10%
Marion County
97.10%
Randolph County
97.00%
Warrick County
96.90%
Boone County
96.60%
Clinton County
96.50%
Lake County 
96.40%
Shelby County
96.40%
Hendricks County
96.10%
Jay County
96.00%
DeKalb County
95.90%
DuBois County
95.90%
Jackson County
95.60%
Daviess County
95.10%
Part of Jennings County
95.00%
Ripley County
95.00%
Howard County
94.80%
Warren County
94.80%
Henry County
94.60%
Jennings County
94.40%
Johnson County
94.30%
Vigo County
94.30%
Bartholomew County Area
94.10%
Wabash County
94.10%
Vanderburgh County
93.60%
Greene County
93.50%
Hamilton County
93.00%
Miami County
92.90%
Clay County
92.80%
Crawford County
92.80%
Sullivan County
92.20%
Jefferson County
91.90%
Rush County 
91.70%
Pike County
91.60%
Spencer County
90.90%
White County
90.50%
Martin County
89.40%
Morgan County
89.30%
Putnam County+A39
89.20%
Tippecanoe County
89.20%
Whitley County
88.70%
Elkhart County
87.60%
Vermillion County
87.10%
Noble County
87.00%
Wayne County
86.80%
Montgomery County
85.20%
Parke County
84.20%
Gibson County
83.70%
Steuben County
83.70%
Porter County
83.30%
Fulton County
82.70%
Carroll County
82.60%
Fountain County
82.30%
Kosciusko County
81.60%
Clark County 
81.10%
Floyd County
81.10%
Cass County
81.00%
Lawrence County
76.30%
LaPorte County
73.60%
Monroe County
72.50%
Orange County
70.80%
Posey County
70.60%
LaGrange County
70.10%
Washington County
69.40%
Marshall County
69.10%
Harrison County
66.60%
Knox County
62.10%
Fayette County
61.20%
Union County
61.20%
St. Joseph County
60.00%

Indiana NRCS soils database, Bill Hosteter

SEPTIC SYSTEM CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Your onsite treatment system represents a significant investment that you should protect. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" was never truer than it is with onsite system care. With proper operation and regular maintenance, your system will function better and last longer. Committing a little attention to the care of your system is the best way to avoid the nightmare of a failing system. Read and follow the Dos and Don’ts below for trouble-free operation.

Do

This practical list of Dos and Don’ts for onsite systems comes from articles by The Delaware Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, Inc. (DOWRA) and Pipeline (National Small Flows Clearinghouse) with a few editorial additions for good measure.

Homer & Maud Homeowner

TERMINOLOGY FOR ONSITE SYSTEMS



effluent: the liquid that is released to or from a septic tank or aerobic unit; raw effluent is that which has not been treated in any way; treated effluent is that which has gone through a septic tank, aerobic unit, or absorption area

enzymes: in sewage treatment, a substance produced by living cells that is marketed as an additive for septic tanks to speed decomposition of solids; enzyme addition is usually not necessary in a septic tank due to the large number of microorganisms present in human waste that are able to decompose the solids in the tank

evaporation-transpiration systems (ET): movement of effluent upward through the soil and overlying vegetation and into the atmosphere, rather than downward movement into the soil; usually used when more traditional sewage treatment systems are not suitable; very specific design criteria must be met for system to be approved



failed system: a sewage treatment system that no longer effectively treats household waste; generally has a visible surface discharge, or may be indicated by plumbing system back ups

flow restrictor: see conservation device

fluorescent dye test: see dye test

french drain: see curtain drain



geotextile: permeable material used to cover aggregate in trenches to prevent soil from mixing with the aggregate following backfilling operations but allowing air and moisture to move through the soil and aggregate; aggregate may also be covered with untreated building paper or clean hay

gravelless absorption system: see absorption chamber

gray water: effluent from household sinks, shower/bathtub, clothes washer, water treatment units, etc., that does not contain toilet waste

grit: see inert solids

groundwater: subsurface water that originates as rain or snow melt; groundwater seeps through the soil profile until reaching a depth where all soil/rock pores are filled; the top of this saturated zone is called the water table



holding tank: a watertight tank, similar to a septic tank, that collects waste and holds it until it can be pumped and transported to a sewage treatment system; used on small lots with no suitable absorption area or in a location too isolated for a community system; use is frequently restricted by health department regulations

household hazardous waste: any of a number of products found in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, or garden shed that by their chemical nature can poison, corrode, explode, or burst into flame when handled improperly

hydraulic load: the amount of effluent applied to the absorption area; can be decreased by using water conservation devices, hydraulic overloading occurs when the absorption area receives more effluent than it can effectively treat



impermeable: see permeable

inert solids: the solid portion of household waste that cannot be decomposed by microorganisms. Synonym: grit

infiltration galleys: see absorption chamber

infiltration rate: the amount of time necessary for effluent to flow from the absorption area into the soil; varies with soil type and other environmental factors, and is usually expressed in gallons/day/square foot (gpd/sq.ft.)

inlet pipe: the pipe conveying wastewater into a vessel (septic tank, distribution box, etc.)

inspection port: an access hole in the septic tank to allow inspection of the tank or its contents; tank should always be pumped through central access manhole. Synonym: manhole, access port, clean-out



leach field: see absorption area

leaching chamber: see absorption chamber

leaching pit: see seepage pit

leaching pit: see seepage pit

limiting layer: impermeable soil, bedrock, or other physical impediment that limits the downward movement of effluent from the absorption area

CONSULTANTS’ CORNER/ONSITE RESOURCES

Wastewater Options for Small Communities

There is a wealth of training materials for small communities who are interested in improving their water and wastewater services, and for those who work with small communities available at the National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities (NETCSC), sponsored by the US EPA. While the training material is not free, it is reasonably priced given the quality of material provided. This Center is not the same as the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, but is related and located at the same place.

Wastewater Options For Small Communities

"Assessing Wastewater Options For Small Communities" curriculum helps local officials evaluate their community's current and future wastewater treatment needs and implement appropriate solutions. Topics include: introduction to wastewater, facility development, viability and assessment of a treatment system, regulatory requirements, selecting and working with consulting engineers, selecting wastewater technologies, project financing, and project commitment. The appendices for this training course contain overhead masters, system assessment instruments, information on wastewater technologies, plus additional resources. The training package has a Trainer's Manual, a Participant Guide, and a Microsoft PowerPointŪ presentation. The Trainer's Manual and the Participant Guide are 426 pages in length. The presentation has 102 slides and is available in electronic form on a 3 1/2" floppy diskette in both PC and Mac formats.

This training presentation is the electronic version of the transparency masters used in training deliveries to summarize important points and issues of assessing wastewater options. You can access the presentation two different ways: download as a Microsoft PowerPointŪ 4.0 presentation or view and print as individual slides.

Complete Package TRTPCD06...$79

Trainers Manual TRTGCD33...$45

Participants Guide TRPMCD34...$46

Powerpoint Disk TRSWCD35...$10
 
 

Onsite Wastewater System Operation and Maintenance

The Onsite Wastewater System Operation and Maintenance package contains a trainer's manual, a trainer's resource pack, and an operator's manual. Target audience is operators and maintainers of onsite wastewater treatment systems. The trainer's manual provides information about program design and offers three program delivery options. The operator's manual provides technical information needed by trainers and operators. Topics covered include onsite systems, operator responsibilities and duties, principles of onsite systems, system components, operation and maintenance, and mathematics. The trainer's resource pack contains 139 transparency masters and nearly 400 color slides.

Complete Package TRTPCD09...$273

Operator's Guide TRPMCD11...$36

Operator and Trainer's Guides TRTGCD10...$43

Trainer's Resource Pack TRRPCD12...$241
 
 

Working Effectively in Small Communities on Environmental Projects

Designed to help consulting engineers evaluate appropriate environmental technologies and management systems for small communities, this package provides an overview of the political, economic, and environmental challenges facing small communities. Topics covered include starting out right, working with small communities, community needs assessment and technology, financing, and alternative technologies. The package includes an instructor's manual and participant's materials. Trainer materials include lesson plans, learning outcomes, time estimates, icebreakers, case studies, games, transparency masters, and other activities. Participant's materials include information resources helpful to engineers who plan to set up practice in small communities.

Complete Package TRTPCD04...$61
 
 

For more information about the National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities (NETCSC) and any of the services mentioned, call or write:

P.O. Box 6064

West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV 26506-6064

(304) 293-4191 or (800) 624-8301

Fax: (304) 293-3161

Curricula is located at: http://www.estd.wvu.edu/netc/NETCSC_curricula.html
 
 

WEB RESOURCES FOR WATER PROFESSIONALS

Water-Wastewater Web

http://www.w-ww.com/

Water/Wastewater Links Page

http://members.aol.com/ronwater1/index.htm

Water Environment Federation (WEF)

http://www.wef.org/

Catalog of Water and Wastewater Books

http://www.sgcpubs.com/bookstore/

Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District

http://www.srcsd.com/

Non-Point Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO)

http://www.canr.uconn.edu/ces/nemo/index.html

A Virtual Library of Environmental Resources

http://earthsystems.org/Environment.shtml

A Glossary of Water Resource Terms

http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/glossary.html

Water Quality Database Browser

http://hermes.ecn.purdue.edu:8001/server/water/bib/browse.html
 
 

NATIONAL SMALL FLOWS CLEARINGHOUSE MAILING LIST

Would you like to receive the Small Flows newsletter from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse? The form follows on the next page.

Small Flows

National Small Flows Clearinghouse

West Virginia University

P O Box 6064

Morgantown WV 26506-6064

1-800-624-8301




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