The Scoop on Septic Systems

Just over three years ago, I bought a new house that was a few miles outside of city limits because it had a bit more room to spread out.  I never considered the fact that my new house was on a private well and septic system.  Immediately, friends began to ask me if I had concerns about my water quality.  The house was under ten years old, and the required septic system inspection plus water test assured me everything was working properly.  The news was clearly a relief, but it got me wondering if I need to be concerned about unexpected poor water quality in the future.

After some investigation into the mechanics of septic systems, what I learned gave me a mixed-bag of feelings.  I was happy to hear that newer systems, when properly maintained by pumping every two to three years, can provide a long-term, effective means of treating wastewater for homes not connected to city sewer.  I was not happy, however, to hear that so many systems across the country have not been properly designed and maintained, thus leading to pollution of our most precious natural resource, water.  In fact, according to the documentary, “Septic Infrastructure in the U.S.” by Brett Walton (http://www.circleofblue.org/septic-infrastructure-in-america/), we can see how broadly the failing septic infrastructure impacts our lives.

The good news is that there are simple ways to prevent and fix the issues with failing septic systems.  As Brett points out, the path to resolution boils down to three key strategies: “data, oversight, and design.”  Once better and more accurate data is collected, then more proactive oversight and basic maintenance can be performed, and in areas where needed better system designs can be implemented.  It’s reasons like this that get me so excited to be working at RTVision, where our solutions are helping local environmental health authorities implement these strategies every day.  Like in Washington County, MN, where four years ago they identified the mounting risks of dated systems (http://www.startribune.com/urgency-needed-on-problem-septic-systems-washington-county-says/208003391/).  Implementing OneGov from RTVision allowed them to holistically address the issue through automation and analytics.  Today, the fifth largest county in Minnesota is equipped with an inventory of septic system data and tools to enforce the oversight required for improvement to their septic infrastructure.

by Jonathon Blissenbach, RtVision