Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Septic System?
A septic tank systems is an underground private sewage disposal system. It is the best method of sewage disposal in areas where community sewage disposal facilities (sanitary sewers) are not available and where soil drainage is acceptable.
A septic tank system usually consists of two parts:
How Does a Septic System Work?
Waste material from the house enter the septic tank slowly so that solids and greases can either settle to the bottom and form a sludge layer or raise to the top and form a scum layer. In between the sludge and scum layers is a layer of liquid waste known as effluent.
When waste enters the tank, bacteria begin to break down the solid materials. This process is called decomposition. As a result of decomposition, solids are reduced, leaving a residue behind in the tank. As time passes, the remaining residue builds up and must be removed via pumping to prevent it from entering the tile field and clogging the system.
The center liquid layer flows slowly from the tank into the tile field. Pipes in the tile field are perforated. This allows the liquid to be distributed equally in specially prepared gravel filled trenches. Once the liquid reaches the trenches, it soaks into the soil. The soil then acts as the final filter in the treatment of waste received by the septic system.
Why Is It Important to Maintain My Septic System?
Septic System Checklist – The Do’s and Don’ts
Warning Signs of a Septic System Failure
If you notice any of these signs or if you suspect problems with your septic tank system, contact the local health department or a qualified professional for assistance.
What is an Onsite Water Supply?
A water well can be a source of clean, potable water if it is properly located, adequately installed and carefully maintained. As a homeowner with a private water supply, it is your responsibility to properly maintain your well so as to protect Michigan’s groundwater resources. A water supply system is an investment, to replace or find another groundwater supply can be very costly.
What is Groundwater?
Most groundwater is fresh water. Many think of groundwater as part of a system of underground lakes and streams. This is true in only a few cases however. Groundwater is usually found in cracks and spaces between rocks and between the soil particles that are under the earth’s surface. These spaces act a bit like a giant underground sponge.
The area found just below the earth’s surface with pore spaces filled partly with water and partly with air is called the unsaturated zone. This groundwater is generally not a reliable source of drinking water. The water in deeper spaces completely filled or saturated with water is called groundwater. The top of this saturated zone is the water table. Water for drinking and other uses is drawn from a saturated zone called an aquifer. About 95% of the U.S. total water supply of fresh water is groundwater. The remaining freshwater is surface water, found in lakes and streams.
How Your Well Works
When the pump in your well is in operation, the water level in the aquifer around the well is lowered. The area affected by this pumping is greatest next to the well and gradually decreases as the distance away from the well increases. This area is known as the wellhead area of influence. Ground water flow in the area of influence is generally toward the well. Therefore, any contaminants present in the area may move toward the well. It is for this reason that proper handling, application and storage of chemicals or fertilizers is important to protecting your source of drinking water.