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VDH joins the EPA on recognizing SepticSmart week

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is joining with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in recognizing Sept. 16-20 as SepticSmart Week throughout Virginia. SepticSmart Week is an annual outreach initiative to remind homeowners and communities on the importance of maintaining their on-site sewage disposal systems (septic systems). VDH estimates there are 1 million homes served by on-site sewage systems in Virginia. In the Piedmont Health District which contains Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties, the majority of homes are on septic systems.

Failure to maintain and service a home’s septic system can lead to system backups and overflows; which can result in costly repairs, polluted local waterways and risks to public health and the environment. There is no good time for your septic system to fail. Be SepticSmart!

Homeowners can do their part by following these tips to protect your Septic System:

• Homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.

• Avoid pouring fats, oils, grease and solids down the drain, which can clog a system’s pipes and damage the drainfield.

• Ask guests to only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.

• Be water efficient and spread out water use. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system.

• Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drain field, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

• If you use a well for your water supply, have your water tested annually.

For general information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-health/septicsmart-week or www.epa.gov/septic/septicsmart-week .

For information on the location of your home’s septic system or if you have questions, contact your local County Health Department.