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December 17, 2015     The Woodville Republican
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December 17, 2015
 

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Page 12B The Woodville Republican, Thursday, December 17, 2015 S bY SUSAN COLLINS-SMITH MSU EXTENSION Problems with private septic systems can be expensive, messy and hazardous to Mississip- pi's drinking water. But homeowners can take some proactive steps to keep their systems func- tioning properly. "The majority of our drinking water in Mis- sissippi comes from groundwater sources," said Jason R. Barrett, an assistant Extension professor with the Mis- sissippi State Univer- sity Extension Service Center for Government and Community Devel- opment. "Private sep- tic systems that do not function properly or are not installed properly can contaminate nearby water wells or surface water, such as ponds and streams." The Mississippi State Department of Health requires homeowners without access to a mu- nicipal sewer system to install septic systems to treat household waste- water. Wastewater from bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms enters a large, underground tank where beneficial bacte- ria break down solid ma- terial and harmful bac- teria. The treated liquid portion, called effluent, then rises to the top of the tank and drains slowly out to an absorp- tion site through a dis- tribution pipe, called a field line. The distribu- tion pipe should be a maximum of 100 feet long, depending on the site and soil conditions. Soil underneath the dis- tribution site absorbs t Christmas At this festive time of year, we'd like to thank you for stopping here. We really do appreciate your business and your friendship! Merry Christmas from our entire team. We wish you and yours all the best. Three Sisters' Centreville 601-645-6900 Cell 601-645-2963 Lori Boykin & Dianne Boykin WE H YOUA AND lllAm IE'W Flowers, Things Septi Systems y and filters the water before it enters ground- water, where it is again filtered. To keep the system working properly, keep solid waste to a minimum and never put paint, pesticides, acids, sol- vents, oils and degreas- ers down the drain, Bar- rett said. Introducing large amounts of waste- water into the system in a short amount of time, such as washing several loads of laundry in one day, can overload the tank. This reduces the time for waste to settle, decompose and absorb in the drainage field. "Any food left on your plate should go into the garbage," Barrett said. "Garbage disposals are not necessarily bad. If you have children, a garbage disposal could keep you from having a clogged sink. But just because you can put it in the disposal doesn't mean it should go down there." Only bathwater, hu- man waste and toilet tissue should enter the septic system from bath- rooms, Barrett said. "Many paper products will say they are biode- gradable and safe for septic systems," he said. "But ! would be very cautious about flushing anything besides toilet tissue down the toilet. Baby wipes and other types of wet wipes can cause clogs and jams in your pipes or the septic tank itself." Paper towels can cause major problems in a septic system, said Charles Box, who spent more than 25 years man- ufacturing and install- ing septic systems in the Oktibbeha County area. "Paper towels can be a real nightmare if they get into the septic sys- tem," Box said. "Manu- facturers now put nylon strips in them to make them more durable, which don't break down and clog the system." Any petroleum prod- uct or a large dose of household bleach will kill all of the beneficial bacteria in the tank, said Box, who also is a retired City of Starkville employee. "A reasonable amount used in a load of laundry is fine and won't cause problems," he said. "Phosphates have been removed from most oth- er household detergents and cleaners and are en- vironmentally friendly." Some systems require chlorine tablets, and other systems use air pumps to aerate tanks and keep beneficial bac- teria alive. "About the only thing that can cause a ma- jor problem within the tank is putting in items that don't belong, such as fats, oils and grease, which can cause a heavy layer on the surface of the water in the tank and stop up the distri- bution pipe," Box said. "Most problems are not associated with the tank." Any problems will be evident and can be di- agnosed by a reputable plumber, Barrett said. "If you have an issue with the system, you'll know it," he said. "You'll 'see a puddle in the yard, or waste will back up into the house. If the bacteria in the tank die, you'll be able to detect a sewer odor." Never drive, park or build on top of the dis- tribution field. These actions can crush the distribution pipe and damage the distribution field, leading to ground- water contamination, Barrett said. When choosing trees, shrubs or other land- scape plants with exten- sive root systems, plant them at least 20 feet away from any part of the home's sewage infra- structure. "Problems usually do not show up right away," Box said. "But as the plants grow, the roots can invade the sewer, which can lead to expen- sive repairs. The larger the plant, the further away you should plant it." For more" information about maintaining a healthy septic system, read Extension Publi- cation 1869, "Manag- ing Household Waste- water," at http://bit. ly/1SwamBN and Pub- lication 1871, "Mis- sissippi Home-A-Syst: Managing Household Wastewater," at htt~U.'// bit.lv/1HgWBp8. List ofoood folhs we mant to thank this qear! Merrq Christmas! t 123 Hwy. 61 Woodville 601-888-6785 May your days be merry & bright! hristmas Wishes & Happy New Year! and RV Sales Hwy, 61 S * Woodville * 601-888-3513