Quick question: Where does all of the wastewater from your home — including dishwater, laundry and sewage from your bathroom — actually go when it goes “away”? If you live in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, Yelm or Tenino, you may be connected to the city sewer system. In that case, your wastewater ends up at the local sewage treatment plant for proper treatment and disposal.
But for about 53,000 households in Thurston County, in both urban and rural areas, there is no centralized sewage collection. Instead, all of this wastewater goes into a household-sized, backyard, sewage treatment plant, also known as an on-site septic system.
Septic systems come in many different sizes and shapes, based on things like the size of the home, the type of soil underneath the system, and when it was designed and installed. But all systems need to be inspected, pumped and maintained properly to protect our community’s health and water resources. An annual inspection will help your household get onto a regular maintenance schedule and find small problems before they turn into bigger, more expensive issues.
Another question: Where does your drinking water come from? For most of us in Thurston County, our drinking water comes from underground aquifers, also called ground water.
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Septic systems rely on the soil under them to treat wastewater and sewage. The treated water makes its way into underground aquifers and helps re-charge our drinking water. If a septic system fails, the sewage may come to the surface of the ground, where it is an obvious problem. But in some failing septic systems, the sewage can travel unseen into aquifers and contaminate our drinking water.
Attend a free workshop and get a better understanding of how your system works, where it is located, and how to protect your investment. Even better, invite your neighbor to attend with you to help better protect your well. Health Department staff will offer tips to prolong the life of your system, answer questions, and help you create a maintenance plan that works for your family. Find out which common household products can harm your system, and what maintenance tasks can help prevent the need for expensive repairs. Take-home materials, a coupon for $10 off your next tank pumping, and the knowledge to properly maintain your septic system are included in these free workshops.
Workshops will be held Wednesday at South Bay Grange, Thursday at Lacey Community Center, Sept. 28 at Rainier City Hall and Sept. 29 at the Griffin Fire Department. All workshops are from 7-9 p.m.
Register in advance at: co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehoss/education.html or by calling Thurston County Environmental Health at 360-867-2673 or TDD line 360-867-2603.