Septic System

  1. Septic Tank — The septic tank is a watertight container buried in the ground. It is designed to collect all of the sewage that comes from your home. For example, every time you flush a toilet, or do a load of laundry, you are sending sewage to your septic tank. When sewage enters the septic tank, the solids sink to the bottom of the tank (sludge) and oils float to the top of the tank (scum). All of the liquid between the sludge and scum layers is called wastewater. Once the tank is full, wastewater flows from the septic tank to the drainfield.
  2. Drainfield — The drainfield, also called leach field, typically consists of a series of trenches that sit below the ground. These trenches are filled with a porous material and covered with soil. Wastewater from the septic tank flows into the trenches. Microbes then purify the wastewater, as it moves down through the soil profile below the trenches.

Microbes are responsible for treating your waste!

The microbes are doing their job, but what can you do to keep your system working properly? Follow these guidelines for Operation and Maintenance of your septic system.

  1. Operation — The first step in keeping your septic system working is to make sure that you and your family are using it properly. Of course, never flush materials that are hard to decompose down your drains. For example, cigarette butts, hair, and food scraps are not septic friendly!
  2. Maintenance — Your septic system will need periodic maintenance even when you and a healthy microbial population are doing the job properly. Having periodic septic system inspections can help to save you thousands of dollars in expensive repairs or even system replacement!

Visit the Department of Oregon website and the Environmental Protection Agency website to learn more about being septic smart.