The problem of leaky septic systems
In Lynnwood, most residential homes and commercial buildings are hooked into a sanitary sewer system. Although there has been an increase in sanitary sewer connections within the City, there are still a number of homes who have septic tanks as their means of sewage disposal. When septic systems are functioning properly they pose no risk to the water quality of the surrounding area, but when septic systems become overloaded with waste or malfunction they can cause property damage and discharge pollutants into our waterways.
The City of Lynnwood lies within the boundaries of the Swamp Creek Watershed, which eventually drains into Lake Washington and then Puget Sound. Swamp Creek contains elevated levels of fecal coliform, an indicator of the presence of potentially harmful bacteria (such as E. coli). Sources of fecal coliform and E. coli are human feces and the feces of warm-blooded animals. The largest portion of fecal coliform contaminants found in Swamp Creek were determined to be of human origin, which is likely a result of broken or malfunctioning septic systems in the area.
What you can do to help
If you have a septic tank it is important that you perform regular maintenance and inspections on your system to ensure that it is functioning properly. For on-site systems that include a septic tank and a gravity field, the current state Board of Health requires a full evaluation of your system every three years. For homes with other systems, a yearly inspection is required.
The following are some suggestions of things you can do and/or watch for to help keep your septic system working properly:
- Schedule an inspection of your system every one to three years depending on the type of system you have
- In-between inspections, watch for odors, wet spots, or especially lush vegetation in the drain field of your yard, which are signs that your system is not functioning properly. Get someone to check the system right away if you suspect your septic is malfunctioning
- Try not to overload your system with too much water. Large quantities of water in your septic system can cause solids from the tank to clog the drain field and create backups
- Never park cars or place large, heavy equipment on the drainfield. This causes compaction of the soil, which can lead to septic system failure
If you would like more information on this subject, follow the links or review the informational material we have available below: