septic smartINDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana State Department of Health is urging Hoosiers to take steps to maintain their septic systems as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) third annual SepticSmart Week, which runs Sept. 21-25.

According to the EPA, nearly one-quarter of all American households, or more than 26 million homes, depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater.  In Indiana, about 11,000 septic systems are installed each year. Proper maintenance of these systems is a vital part of protecting public health. Poor maintenance can cause system back-ups and overflows that can lead to costly repairs, polluted local waterways and risks to public health and the environment.

Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their onsite wastewater treatment systems.  SepticSmart Week provides homeowners an opportunity to learn everyday tips that will help them properly use and maintain their systems and protect their investments in their homes.

“Septic systems are a viable part of our wastewater treatment infrastructure,” said Mike Mettler, REHS, director of Environmental Public Health at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Septic systems need periodic maintenance to ensure proper operation and prevent costly repairs that could create a critical health hazard on your property.”

Homeowners with septic systems are urged to follow these tips:

  • Have systems inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have tanks pumped every three to five years, or more frequently if necessary.
  • Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain.
  • Monitor water use and spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system if it hasn’t been pumped recently.
  • Fix plumbing leaks and consider installing faucet aerators.
  • Never park or drive on a system’s absorption field, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

The EPA’s SepticSmart program promotes proper septic system use and maintenance all year long. Industry practitioners, local governments, homeowners and community organizations can learn more about septic systems at