Septic-Smart Week (September 21-25): Homeowners & Communities Encouraged to Maintain Septic Systems

MONTPELIER – In conjunction with the U.S. EPA, Vermont officials are celebrating Septic-Smart Week by encouraging Vermont residents and business owners to learn about, and properly maintain, their septic systems.

Over 50% of Vermont households depend on septic or other types of onsite systems to treat their wastewater. In addition, many businesses and park facilities use these types of systems.

Failure to maintain a septic system can lead to backups and surfacing of sewage which can result in costly repairs.

Additionally, septic systems that are poorly sited, designed, installed, operated or maintained can cause health and water quality problems, including:
• Contamination of surface waters and ground water with disease-causing pathogens and nitrates
• Nitrogen and Phosphorus discharges to sensitive waters
• Increased algal growth and lowered dissolved oxygen levels
• Contamination of swimming beaches by pathogens

“Educating the public about water quality, septic systems and system maintenance will enable Vermonters to do their part in protecting Vermont’s environment and public health for this and future generations” proclaimed Governor Shumlin. Septic system maintenance can also prevent expensive malfunctions and save system owners significant sums of money. It’s good for Vermont’s environment and our economy.

During Septic-Smart Week, EPA will provide homeowners with maintenance tips, including:

• Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.

• Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.

• Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems. 

• Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day — too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.

• Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

During Septic-Smart Week, the Department of Environmental Conservation, in the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, will be sharing tips and information about septic systems care and maintenance on its Facebook page ( ) and Twitter account (@VTANR).

Governor Shumlin’s proclamation declaring September 21-25 Septic-Smart week, is posted on the ANR DEC Regional Office Wastewater System and Potable Water Supply Program Public Education and Outreach web page.

To learn more about Septic-Smart Week, and how you can take action to protect the quality of Vermont’s water resources, visit