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For Immediate Release
September 15, 2020

Contact

Jim Martin, Public Information Officer
(603) 568-9777 | james.martin@des.nh.gov

NH Celebrates the EPA's SepticSmart Week, September 14 – 18

Concord, NH – To help people understand how to avoid repair costs and minimize environmental damage, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) is participating in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SepticSmart Week, September 14 to 18. The week is designed to encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. The EPA has a website dedicated to SepticSmart Week, and Governor Chris Sununu has recognized this week as New Hampshire SepticSmart Week through proclamation acrobat reader symbol.

About 6 out of every 10 households in New Hampshire depend on septic systems or other types of onsite systems to treat their wastewater. These systems are critical in protecting the state's water resources. These water resources are enjoyed by everyone whether you are swimming in Lake Winnipesaukee, kayaking on the Piscataqua River, fishing on the Merrimack or Connecticut rivers, or taking a drink of water out of your own kitchen faucet.

Failure to maintain a septic system can lead to backups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs and can cause health and water quality problems. An improperly maintained system can even be a significant source of groundwater contamination and cause issues with your drinking water well. Don't forget the three P's when it comes to what is flushable down your toilet; Pee, Poop, and Paper.

During SepticSmart Week, NHDES will be distributing educational outreach resources to help residents understand their septic systems. The EPA provides homeowners with easy to remember maintenance tips, including:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor. This has become especially important during this time where more people are working from home and children are doing remote schooling. Septic tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years. Don't forget to check out GetPumpedNH.com for more information and a rebate form for your next tank service.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system's pipes and drainfield. Additionally, avoid using garbage disposals if you have a septic system. They increase the amount of solids that enter the tank, which reduce the tank's capacity, reduce the bacteria's effectiveness, therefore decreasing the efficiency and safety of your septic system.
  • Don't Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, paint, dental floss, disposable diapers, 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.

For more SepticSmart information including a homeowner's guide go to the EPA SepticSmart Week website. If you work for a municipality, and would like some education outreach material on septic smart practices, please reach out to Anthony Drouin, NHDES Residuals Management Program, at Anthony.F.Drouin@des.nh.gov.