Why Is The Ground Black At Septic Tank? (Best solution)

Corrosion of iron tanks by septic tank water If your tank or any of its components is made of iron, the hydrogen sulfide will react with it and thereby form black iron precipitates. This is what ultimately leads to septic tank water becoming pitch black.

  • Anaerobic bacteria cause huge problems as they produce a black slime which blocks the soakaway and the porosity of the soil. The ridiculous fact is that most modern ‘onion’ shaped septic tanks have outlet levels deeper than one metre as standard!

What are the signs of a failing septic field?

7 Warning Signs Your Septic System Is Failing

  • Gurgling Pipes. They would occur when you run water in the house (e.g. when using the sink or shower) or flush the toilet.
  • Bad Odours. It’s never a pleasant experience when this occurs.
  • Water At Ground Level.
  • Green Grass.
  • Slow Drainage.
  • Blocked Pipes.

What can I do about a saturated septic field?

Additional ways to help keep the soil in your drain field from becoming over-saturated include:

  1. Avoid using too many water fixtures in the home at once.
  2. Ensure all home gutter downspouts are directed away from the drain field.
  3. Don’t point lawn sprinklers toward drain field.

What causes the blackening of sewage?

In iron tank, the H2S gas emitted through anaerobic degradation of sewage causes formation of black FeS.

How do you know when you need a new drain field?

Drainfield pipes that crack open and break rather than clogging up release too much water into the field area. You may notice puddles or spongy and mushy ground over the area. If a technician reports high water levels during a tank inspection, you may need drainfield repairs instead of just a routine pumping.

How do you unclog a septic drain field?

Can Anything Unclog an Old Septic Drain Field?

  1. Shock the System With Bacteria. A septic system bacteria packet can help clean out a clogged drain field by allowing waste material to break down and drain through.
  2. Reduce Water Usage.
  3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals.
  4. Change to Gentler Toilet Paper and Soap.
  5. Contact a Septic Professional.

Can saturated ground cause septic problems?

Saturated ground can cause ponding around septic tank drain fields. You’ll notice slow draining, poor toilet flushing and, in extreme circumstances, overflow from floor and shower drains and even from toilets on the ground floor.

Will a drain field dry out?

The remaining liquid evaporates or penetrates far beneath the surface. That is, unless the surface is saturated. If your drainfield is taking on more water than it can absorb, it never has a chance to dry out and make room for more water. As long as your family is awake, you’re sending water to that drainfield.

How do you tell if your septic tank is full?

How to tell your septic tank is full and needs emptying

  1. Pooling water.
  2. Slow drains.
  3. Odours.
  4. An overly healthy lawn.
  5. Sewer backup.
  6. Gurgling Pipes.
  7. Trouble Flushing.

What is black water septic tank?

Black Water RV Tanks are designed specifically for the collection of wastewater from toilets in RVs, motorhomes, 5th wheels, trailers, campers, and tiny houses. RV black water tanks are designated explicitly for the septic purpose of holding sewage wastewater and are not recommended for any other use.

Is sewage water black?

Sewage therefore contains black water in any case and can also contain grey water. The technology of HAMANN sewage treatment plants is designed to always process a mixture of black water and grey water – i.e. sewage in its entirety.

What color is sewage water?

Color – Fresh sewage is normally brown and yellowish in color but over time becomes black in color.

How do you test a septic drain field?

In order to test the overall health and liquid capacity for your leach field, it is necessary to perform a hydraulic load test. This is done by running water at a certain rate over an allotted period of time. A failure occurs when water back-drains to the source before that allotted time period is up.

What is the average life of a septic system?

Age of the System It’s pretty common for a septic system to last 40 years or longer, which means if you buy a new home, you might never need to replace it. However, you might have an older home whose septic system has been in place for nearly half a century.

What is the most common cause of septic system failure?

Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (those with a drain field) are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables.

Why is my septic tank water pitch black ?

As the water from the septic tank enters the septic tank, it is often yellowish or turbid. When wastewater reaches the septic tank, however, it might take on a pitch-black hue due to the presence of organic matter in the wastewater. This is typically a sign that something is amiss with the septic system, and it is best avoided. When the water in your septic tank becomes pitch black, there are two basic explanations for this. Either your septic tank is corroding or you have a problem with inorganic waste contamination in your system.

Corrosion of iron tanks by septic tank water

In most cases, sulfate-reducing anaerobic bacteria become particularly active when a sulfate source is present in the septic tank water. When these bacteria reproduce, they generate hydrogen sulfide, which is the gas that has a rotten-egg stench to it. Because iron is used in the construction of your tank and its components, the hydrogen sulfide will react with it, resulting in the formation of black iron precipitates. Septic tank water eventually becomes pitch black as a result of this. There are a variety of options for dealing with this issue.

If you currently have one, you might want to consider replacing it with a tank made of plastic, polymer, concrete, or fiberglass.

Additionally, the use of a water softener can assist to remove excess sulfur from the drinking water.

Increase in organic load in advanced septic systems

There are some scenarios in which traditional septic systems are not appropriate due to the sensitivity of a receiving environment, or because of the sort of wastewater generated or the soil characteristics on the site in question. The installation of modern septic systems is required in such circumstances. Prior to releasing the wastewater into the leach field, advanced septic systems are uniquely designed to considerably reduce the biological oxygen demand, total suspended particles, pathogens, and certain nutrients in the wastewater.

  • Because it relies on bacteria that flourish in the presence of oxygen, an aerobic treatment unit (ATU), which is a form of advanced septic system, processes wastewater more effectively than a typical septic system would.
  • It is possible that the effluent from the tank’s quality will be degraded if something goes wrong in the system that might interfere with microbial activity.
  • Because the bacteria are no longer able to break down organic waste, an increase in the amount of organic waste is generated.
  • If the effluent from your sophisticated septic system begins to become pitch black, you should contact your provider right once to discuss your options.

In an ideal situation, they would conduct a test to determine the quantity of dissolved oxygen (DO) present in the tank. The optimal DO concentration should be between 1.5 and 2 mg/L. When the results of this test are in, they will be able to determine what remedial steps to put in place.

Contamination of septic tank water by inorganic waste

Septic tank bacteria are often responsible for digesting and liquifying organic waste in the tank, preparing it for the next step of the wastewater treatment process. Bacteria, on the other hand, are unable to break down inorganic waste. It is nearly hard to totally eliminate inorganic waste from the environment. This inorganic waste normally settles down in the septic tank, firming up the sludge layer, which is then pumped out of the tank after a couple of years to allow for proper drainage.

Do not flush anything else down the toilet than tissue paper and human waste in order to avoid these issues.

Antibacterial soaps, face tissue, outdated prescription medications, paint, cigarette butts, and other items fall into this category.


The presence of a lack of oxygen in the septic tank water, rather than a chemical reaction with an iron tank, should resolve the problem after a few of hours of re-introducing oxygen to the tank water. However, if the issue is related to an iron septic tank, the issue will continue to remain until the tank is totally corroded and destroyed. For this reason, it is suggested that you replace iron tanks as soon as you become aware of a problem. Every septic system owner should also take precautions to prevent introducing impurities into the system itself.

Avoid flushing inorganic trash down the toilet because it can disrupt the balance of an otherwise healthy ecology in your sink or bathtub.

Septic tank problems

Environmentally Safe
Chemical Free
Prevent Costly Repairs
Eliminate Pump-Outs
Clean Clogged Drainfield
Repair Clogged Septic
Digests Raw Sewage
Eliminate Septic Odors
Digests 100lbs per Day
Pennies Per Day
Liquefies septic Solids
Enzymes absorb Sludge
Septic Tank ProblemsSeptic tanks and systems are, by nature, designed to function properly without problems or the need of human intervention or maintenance. For well over 100 years, septic tank systems have been serving as a simplified solution to a never-ending supply of waste which is produced in the hundreds of millions of tons per year range.Since their inception, septic tanks have worked very much the way they were designed and have functioned so well that they were the leading choice of officials and regulators � second only to public wastewater systems where buildings are directly linked to municipal lines.Septic tank systems are not foolproof and can run into problems. Most systems are connected to a leach or drainfield at some point and the connection is usually made by buried piping and lines that allow safe passage for the wastewater to travel from the tank, to the filed. The buried lines and the tank itself can be damaged or shifted as a result of heavy weight (such as heavy equipment driving over the area where the tank is located), ground movements such as natural shifting and severe storms can also saturate soil to a point that the system shifts. A damaged system may not function at 100% and can lead to odors, wet spots and back-ups.Tree roots also play a major role in septic tank problems. Root systems can easily break through piping and tank walls and can act as a mesh shield preventing waste from flowing properly. Planting trees or large shrubs around your drainfield can result in unwanted roots within your system that can lead to sever problems � even complete stoppage.Septic tank systems often see a massive accumulation of Bio-Mat (Black tar like substance that clogs the lines and filed soils) due to improperly digested raw sewage. Modern anti-bacterial products kill off the naturally occurring strains within all systems � leading to undigested sludge clogging the field and resulting in the same odor, wet spot and backup problems.If your home or establishment is connected to a septic tank system, keep these handy tips in mind so as to prevent a costly unnecessary repair bill in the future.
  • The presence of a lack of oxygen in the septic tank water, rather than a chemical reaction with an iron tank, should resolve the problem after a few of hours of re-introducing oxygen to the tank system. However, if the issue is related to an iron septic tank, the issue will continue to remain until the tank is entirely rusted and decommissioned. For this reason, it is suggested that you replace iron tanks as soon as you become aware of a difficulty. Aside from that, any owner of a septic system should avoid adding impurities to the system. It is recommended that you only flush toilet paper and human waste down the toilet as a rule of thumb. Also avoid flushing inorganic trash down the toilet since it might disrupt the delicate balance of an aquarium’s environment.
Use common sense in controlling the area around your system and keep any access covers in tip top shape. Loose fitting tank covers are an accident waiting to happen and can be a severe hazard for small children and pets.If your septic system is failing or running into problems, consider a bacterial treatment for sludge digestion for in most cases, sludge and roots are the number one cause of backups and septic tank problems. If your problem is due to mechanical damage, seek the assistance of a reputable septic technician in your area and be sure to get at least three opinions before digging up your tank or field.

Signs of a failing septic system

Septic systems are intended to last between 20 and 30 years, yet many endure much longer than that. The most typical reason for early failure is a lack of suitable maintenance procedures. One who inspects and maintains their systems at the specified frequency and as needed is said to be in good condition. A septic system that is not pumped on a regular basis will result in a buildup of sludge and floating materials, such as grease and toilet paper, in the tank. The accumulation of these will cause the tank to overflow into the drain field, causing it to become blocked beyond repair if the accumulation becomes too great.


  • Your toilets, sinks, and baths are backed up with sewage
  • The inability to flush toilets at a normal rate, as well as the fact that drains flow significantly more slowly even after using plungers or “plumber’s snakes.” Water gathering in your yard or near your septic tank is a sign of a problem. Depending on the source of the water, it may or may not have a terrible odor. Stains on the soil or grasses of the drainfield or nearby areas that are black or dark grey in color
  • Areas of your drainfield that are very wet or mushy
  • On the shore or along the stream, algae development on the outlets of subterranean drainage pipes, bulkheads, or apparent seeps is a problem.

If your septic system looks to be deteriorating, take the following steps:

  • The following steps should be taken if your septic system looks to be malfunctioning:

Money-saving strategies The cost of maintaining and repairing your septic system might be significant. Because of the significance of maintaining your system to public health, coupons, classes, incentives, and low-interest loans are occasionally made available to encourage you to do so. Inquire with your local health department, surface water agency, or conservation district to see if they provide any incentives for recycling.

How Your Septic System Works

Underground wastewater treatment facilities, known as septic systems, are often employed in rural regions where there are no centralized sewage lines. They clean wastewater from residential plumbing, such as that produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry, by combining natural processes with well-established technology. A conventional septic system is comprised of two components: a septic tank and a drainfield, often known as a soil absorption field. It is the septic tank’s job to decompose organic matter and to remove floatable stuff (such as oils and grease) and solids from wastewater.

Alternate treatment systems rely on pumps or gravity to assist septic tank effluent in trickling through a variety of media such as sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants such as pathogens that cause disease, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants.

Specifically, this is how a typical conventional septic system works:

  1. All of the water that leaves your home drains down a single main drainage pipe and into a septic tank. An underground, water-tight container, often composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, serves as a septic system’s holding tank. Its function is to retain wastewater for a long enough period of time to allow particles to sink to the bottom and form sludge, while oil and grease float to the surface and produce scum. Sludge and scum are prevented from exiting the tank and moving into the drainfield region by compartments and a T-shaped outlet. After that, the liquid wastewater (effluent) exits the tank and flows into the drainfield. The drainfield is a shallow, covered hole dug in unsaturated soil that serves as a drainage system. Porous surfaces are used to release pretreated wastewater because they allow the wastewater to pass through the soil and into the groundwater. In the process of percolating through the soil, wastewater is accepted, treated, and dispersed by the soil, finally discharging into groundwater. Finally, if the drainfield becomes overburdened with too much liquid, it can flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or resulting in toilet backups and sink backups. Finally, wastewater percolates into the soil, where it is naturally removed of harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. Coliform bacteria are a kind of bacteria that may be found in the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals, with humans being the most common host. As a result of human fecal contamination, it is a sign of this.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority has built an animated, interactive model of how a residential septic system works, which you can view here.

Do you have a septic system?

It’s possible that you’re already aware that you have a septic system. If you are not sure, here are some tell-tale symptoms that you most likely are:

  • If you have a septic system, you may already be aware of this fact. Here are some tell-tale indicators that you most likely do, if you don’t already know:

How to find your septic system

You can locate your septic system once you have confirmed that you have one by following these steps:

  • Taking a look at the “as constructed” drawing of your house
  • Making a visual inspection of your yard for lids and manhole covers
  • Getting in touch with a septic system service provider for assistance in locating it

Failure symptoms: Mind the signs!

Examining the “as constructed” drawing of your house; Checking for lids and manhole covers in your yard. A septic system service company who can assist you in locating it is to be sought.

  • Water backing up into the drains of homes and businesses
  • It is especially noticeable in dry weather that the drainfield grass is bright green and spongy. The presence of standing water or muddy soil near your septic system or in your basement
  • A strong stench emanating from the area surrounding the septic tank and drainfield

Signs of Septic System Failure

  • Flooding is occurring in the home as a result of backed up water and sewage from toilets, drains, and sinks Bathtubs, showers, and sinks all drain at a snail’s pace
  • The plumbing system is making gurgling sounds. The presence of standing water or moist patches near the septic tank or drainfield
  • Noxious smells emanating from the septic tank or drainfield
  • Even in the midst of a drought, bright green, spongy luxuriant grass should cover the septic tank or drainfield. Algal blooms in the vicinity of ponds or lakes In certain water wells, there are high quantities of nitrates or coliform bacteria.

Septic systems, like the majority of other components of your house, require regular maintenance. As long as it is properly maintained, the septic system should give years of dependable service. If the septic system is not properly maintained, owners face the risk of having a dangerous and expensive failure on their hands. Septic systems, on the other hand, have a limited operating lifespan and will ultimately need to be replaced. Septic systems that have failed or are not working properly pose a threat to human and animal health and can damage the environment.

It is possible that a prompt response will save the property owner money in repair costs, as well as disease and bad influence on the environment in the future.

What happens when a septic system fails?

When a septic system fails, untreated sewage is dumped into the environment and carried to places where it shouldn’t be. This may cause sewage to rise to the surface of the ground around the tank or drainfield, or it may cause sewage to back up in the pipes of the structure. It is also possible that sewage will make its way into groundwater, surface water, or marine water without our knowledge. Pathogens and other potentially harmful substances are carried by the sewage. People and animals can become ill as a result of exposure to certain diseases and pollutants.

What are some common reasons a septic system doesn’t work properly?

The pipe between the home to the tank is obstructed. When this occurs, drains drain very slowly (perhaps much more slowly on lower floors of the structure) or cease draining entirely, depending on the situation. This is frequently a straightforward issue to resolve. The majority of the time, a service provider can “snake the line” and unclog the problem. Keeping your drains clear by flushing only human waste and toilet paper down the drain and having your system examined on an annual basis will help prevent clogs.

  1. Plant roots might occasionally obstruct the pipe (particularly on older systems).
  2. The inlet baffle to the tank is obstructed.
  3. In case you have access to your intake baffle aperture, you may see if there is a blockage by inspecting it.
  4. It is essential that you avoid damaging any of the septic system’s components.
  5. Avoid clogging your inlet baffle by just flushing human waste and toilet paper, and get your system examined once a year to ensure that it is in good working order.
  6. This may result in sewage backing up into the residence or surfacing near the septic tank as a result of the situation.
  7. If there is an effluent filter, it has to be cleaned or changed as necessary.

Preventing this sort of problem from occurring is as simple as cleaning your effluent filter (if you have one) and getting your system examined once per year.

It is possible for sewage to back up into the residence when the drainfield collapses or becomes saturated with water.

Additionally, smells may be present around the tank or drainfield.

It is possible that the system was run incorrectly, resulting in an excessive amount of solid material making its way to the drainfield and causing it to fail prematurely.

While it is conceivable that a drainfield will get saturated due to excessive quantities of water (either from enormous volumes of water flowing down the drain or flooding the drainfield), it is not always viable to dry out and restore a drainfield.

A connection to the public sewer system should be explored if the drainfield has failed and it is possible to make the connection.

It will be necessary to replace the existing drainfield if this does not take place. It is possible for a septic system to fail or malfunction for various reasons. Septic professionals should be contacted if your system isn’t functioning correctly.

How can I prevent a failure?

The proper operation of your septic system, together with routine maintenance, can help it last a long and trouble-free life. Assuming that your septic system has been correctly planned, located, and installed, the rest is up to you to take care of. Inspect your system once a year and pump as necessary (usually every 3-5 years). Avoid overusing water, and be mindful of what you flush down the toilet and what you flush down the drain. Learn more about how to properly maintain your septic system.

Can my failing septic system contaminate the water?

Yes, a failed septic system has the potential to pollute well water as well as adjacent water sources. Untreated wastewater is a health problem that has the potential to cause a variety of human ailments. Once this untreated wastewater enters the groundwater, it has the potential to poison your well and the wells of your neighbors. It is possible that oyster beds and recreational swimming sites will be affected if the sewage reaches local streams or water bodies.

Is there financial help for failing systems or repairs?

Well water and surrounding waterbodies can be contaminated by a failed septic system, which is true in some cases. Drinking untreated water can put your health at risk and cause various ailments in humans. You and your neighbor’s wells may become polluted if this untreated effluent enters the groundwater. It is possible that oyster beds and recreational swimming sites will get polluted if the sewage reaches local streams or water bodies.

  • In addition, Craft3 is a local nonprofit financial organization that provides loans in many counties. Municipal Health Departments- Some local health departments provide low-interest loan and grant programs to qualified applicants. A federal home repair program for people who qualify is offered by the USDA.

More Resources

  • Septic System 101: The Fundamentals of Septic Systems
  • Taking Good Care of Your Septic System
  • A video on how to inspect your septic system yourself
  • Using the Services of a Septic System Professional
  • Safety of the Septic Tank Lid

2.0 The Black Box -The Septic System

In this video, you will learn the fundamentals of septic systems. What You Should Know About Maintaining Your Septic System A video on how to inspect your septic system on your own Using the Services of a Septic System Expert; Safety of the Septic Tank Lid

2.0.1 Septic Tanks

The septic tank is not a mysterious black box, but rather a component of an on-lot wastewater disposal system that has been thoroughly tested and constructed. The primary function of the septic tank is to remove fats, oils, floatable materials, and settleable solids from residential wastewater while also allowing for the partial biological breakdown of the wastewater in an anaerobic (no oxygen) or facultative (low oxygen) environment, respectively. The microbial organisms in the septic tank transform the dissolved and colloidal contaminants into gases, cellular material, and other metabolic end products throughout their growth and reproduction.

  • The septic tank eliminates settleable particles and floatable material from wastewater by retaining it in the tank for a long enough length of time to allow the solids to separate from the liquid in the tank.
  • On average, roughly 50% of the solids breakdown into biomass or bio-end products, with the remaining particles settling to the bottom of the tank and generating a layer of biological sludge (see Figure 1).
  • Anaerobic bacteria break down the organic material that settles to the bottom of the tank as a result of the settling of settleable material.
  • Table 4 contains information on the general properties of the water that exits the septic tank system.
  • An absorption area or some other kind of treatment after the septic or aerobic tank is necessary to further treat the partially treated wastewater as a result of this.
  • Regular maintenance of the septic tank is necessary in order to maintain the high degree of treatment supplied by the septic tank as well as to avoid blockage and overloading of the absorption area.
  • The number of occupants, the size of the tanks, and whether or not a garbage grinder is in operation all influence how frequently the tanks are pumped.
  • Septic tank maintenance does not entail the addition of any biological or chemical additions to the system.
  • Because of this activity, it is possible that the wastes will not decompose properly or that organic material will leak into the absorption region, which will cause the system to get clogged and eventually fail to operate.
  • For single family residences, the on-lot disposal system approved in Pennsylvania must be designed to handle a minimum peak daily flow of 400 gpd or one comparable dwelling unit at a bare minimum.
  • The peak flow should be increased by 100 gallons for each new bed that is added.

2.0.3 Septic Tank Sizing

Although the aerobic tank is a viable alternative to the standard septic tank, it is my professional opinion that a smaller septic tank be placed prior to the aerobic tank in order to enable for a more effective removal of readily settleable and flotable wastes. It acts in a similar manner to a suspended growth extended aeration system, which is comparable to a package wastewater treatment plant in its operation. By virtue of its aerobic (oxygenated) atmosphere, an aerobic tank may function with a higher microbial density and a higher metabolic rate than an equivalent-sized traditional septic tank.

  1. The aerobic unit generates wastewater that has lower biological oxygen demand (BOD), suspended particles, and fecal coliform concentrations than the effluent produced by a typical septic tank, which saves money.
  2. Note: Nitrification is the process by which ammonia and organic nitrogen are converted into nitrite and nitrite compounds.
  3. In order to supply both oxygen and mixing inside the tank, the air is supplied into the system by the use of an air compressor or a churning propeller.
  4. Aerobic systems should be thoroughly inspected and certified before being put into service.
  5. The National Science Foundation is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  6. Testing aerobic units is required to ensure that the system generates high-quality effluent and that the system is equipped with a maintenance and operation manual, in order to reduce the likelihood of system upset and malfunction.
  7. Static shock loading, sludge thickening, homeowner abuse, and mechanical faults are all potential threats to aerobic treatment systems.
  8. In order to avoid using aerobic units in applications such as seasonal or vacation homes or weekend getaways, it is my professional opinion that they should not be employed.

2.1 Aerobic Tanks

When land-based disposal is used for commercial and institutional development, such as strip malls, motels, cafeterias, restaurants and diners; bars; schools; jails; and other facilities, grease traps are used to remove an excessive amount of grease that is often encountered. Clogged lines, blocked inlet and outlet structures, inappropriate reconstruction inside the septic tank, clogging within the drainfield, reduced soil permeability, and failure of the absorption beds are all possible consequences of poor grease removal.

  1. Grease traps are floating chambers that aid in the separation of grease and oils from wastewater during the manufacturing process.
  2. In many business settings, there are smaller grease traps that are situated near the grease-producing item, such as a sink, grill, or dishwasher, among other things.
  3. Generally speaking, grease traps of greater capacity should only be used in conjunction with grease-producing appliances, and they should not be placed behind a trash grinder since garbage grinders tend to create extremely high organic loads that can upset the grease trap.
  4. In the grease trap, the grease floats to the surface of the water and is collected in the tank below.
  5. The cleared effluent is discharged into a septic or aerobic tank, where it is mixed with the other wastewater from the plant or the point of origin.
  6. An effluent filter of this type is made by Zabel Industries, among others.
  7. Due to the fact that poor grease removal might cause the on-lot disposal system to fail or drastically degrade its performance, it is highly suggested that multiple compartment tanks be considered.

Important message: Grease traps are a key component of the system and must be maintained at all times. It is never acceptable to use a unit that is too small.

2.2 Grease Traps

(D) * (GL) * (ST) * (HT/2) * (D) * (GL) * (ST) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (D) * (LF) is an abbreviation for Size Grease Interceptor (gallons) D is the number of chairs available in the dining area. GL represents the number of gallons of wastewater produced each meal. (onsite disposal – 2.5), where ST is the storage capacity factor (normal – 1.7) HR is the number of hours that are available (typically 8 to 10 hours) LF is an abbreviation for Loading Factors. 1.25 miles of interstate highways 1.0 more highways 1.0 recreation and leisure facilities 0.8 kilometers of major roadways 0.5 miles of other roadways (M) Sizing Grease Interceptor (GL) * Size Grease Interceptor (ST) * (2.5) * (LF) (gallons) M = number of meals each day GL represents the number of gallons of wastewater produced each meal.

without trash disposal, 1.25 garbage disposaldishwater, 1.0 without garbage disposal 0.75 without the need for dishwashing Dishwashing and waste disposal are not included in this figure.

Septic Program

This program regulates privately owned on-site waste treatment systems, provides new septic system inspections, administers the Time of Transfer (TOT) septic inspection program, and reviews waste treatment plans in accordance with rezoning and subdivision requests in Black Hawk County, among other responsibilities.

Alternative Systems

A contractor or a health officer may propose or compel the installation of an alternate septic system depending on the circumstances of the property in issue. Depending on the system, homeowners may be required to get into a maintenance contract with a septic system maintenance company that requires an annual service for their septic system. This inspection item is mandated by the Department of Natural Resources and is overseen by the Black Hawk County Sanitarian.

Septic StateLocal Regulations

  • IAC Chapter 567-68: Septic Tank Cleaners (Pumpers)
  • Black Hawk County Ordinance 8.25
  • Chapter 69: Private Sewage Disposal Systems
  • IAC Chapter 567-68: Septic Tank Cleaners (Pumpers)

Septic Permit and Approved Contractors

  • Application for a septic permit
  • A list of Time of Transfer (TOT) inspectors who have been approved
  • And a list of Certified Septic Installers.

Related Websites

  • In addition to DNR Private Septic Systems and DNR Time of Transfer, there is also the Environmental Protection Agency’s website on septic care, the Iowa Onsite Waste Water Association (IOWWA), and an inspection list for the Iowa DNR’s time of transfer.

Healthy Septic Systems

The poor performance of septic systems on Black Lake is thought to be a major cause to the presence of HABs in the area. Unsealed septic systems have the potential to seep nutrients into Black Lake, causing toxic algal blooms. Fresh Start is our effort to urge everyone to examine their system and pump their tank this year, as well as to enroll in a long-term maintenance program to keep their septic system in good working order. According to the table presented below, the health agency recommended that septic systems be maintained on a regular basis.

Regular maintenance saves you money, helps to maintain the value of your home, and helps you avoid the stress of an unexpected repair. We can make a significant difference if a sufficient number of people in our community commit to a regular program of inspection and pumping, beginning this year.

Sign Up for Fresh Start

It is necessary to receive feedback in order to determine whether or not we as a community are having an influence. In order for us to track our community’s reaction, we ask that you you record your actions on Eyes on the Lake when you pump out your septic tank and commit to following the prescribed pumpout schedule. Click on the button below, select the “Healthy Septic” observation type from the drop-down menu, then enter the location of your septic system on the lake. Thank you for your commitment, and thank you for informing us of your plans!

Schedule Your “Fresh Start” Inspection

According on the size of your tank and the number of people living in your home, this useful advice can assist you in determining the best timetable for you. Septic tank cleaning and pumping is a key stage in septic system maintenance since it helps to extend the life of the septic field and reduce the likelihood of backups.

A Simple Overview of Septic Systems

The health of our lake, the health of our marine life, and the health of ourselves and our neighbors are all jeopardized by aging septic systems. With a better understanding of how these systems function, we are becoming more aware of the fact that there are some very basic modifications we can make to minimize “unnatural” quantities of nutrients, viruses, and germs. The following YouTube video is a very good use of 19 minutes of your time and is well worth your while to watch.

Quick Tips

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE FOR YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM? Maintaining your septic system in peak operating condition benefits you in a variety of ways:

  1. It contributes to the preservation of your health. A well functioning septic system eliminates germs and viruses from the environment and aids in the prevention of the spread of illness and sickness. Healthy pollutants can seep into groundwater, the lake, and even your well water if the system is overwhelmed or blocked
  2. It helps to avoid Harmful Algal Blooms. Algal blooms are exacerbated by the presence of nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment. When you keep your septic system in good working order, you may assist to prevent leaking into the lake and keep your swimming area clean. The prevention of aquatic plants from developing along your coastline is made possible by limiting the amount of nutrients that enter the lake. Too much nutrients can also lower oxygen levels, which can have a severe influence on fish and animals
  3. Nevertheless, it is more cost-effective in the long term. Routine, regular maintenance and inspections will help you avoid an expensive repair or a complete system replacement as a result of a system failure
  4. It will also help you maintain the value of your home. Inadequate maintenance can result in the development of smells, stagnant water, and moss in your drain field.

THE RIGHT WAY TO CARE FOR YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM Proper maintenance and attention will assist to extend the life of your septic system while also reducing the likelihood of unexpected and costly failures:

  1. ADVICE ON CAREFULLY MAINTAINING YOUR SEPTICS Your septic system’s life will be prolonged with proper care and attention, which will also assist to avoid unexpected and costly breakdowns.

RED FLAGS are used to indicate danger. Listed below are some of the signs that a system is malfunctioning or that it need attention:

  1. When water is used or a toilet is flushed, gurgling sounds are heard in the pipes, which indicate a clog. Over a drain field, the earth is soft and mushy. Over a drain field, greener grass or grass that grows faster is preferred. People in one’s family who have had recurring intestinal ailments

PREVENT YOUR SYSTEM FROM BEING OVERLOADED Water entering your drains should be kept to a minimum to help extend the life of your system:

  1. Downspouts should be diverted away from the drain field. When clearing snow in the winter, avoid allowing it to accumulate over the drain field. Water use from laundry, dishwashers, and showers should be spread out
  2. Install low-flow faucets and shower heads to conserve water. Low-flush toilets should be installed. Fix dripping faucets and leaking toilets
  3. Use of a waste disposal should be avoided. A sump pump should not be connected to a septic system.

DETERMINATION OF WHEN NOT TO FLUSH OR DRAINS All of the things listed below can clog your system, cause interference with the natural breakdown of effluent, and contribute to hazardous material entering Black Lake or even your well water.

  1. Except for toilet paper, there will be no paper items. There will be no baby wipes, Q-tips, face tissue, cotton balls, tampons, or similar items allowed. There will be no dental floss – even hair should be avoided. Keep fat, grease, and oil to a minimum. There will be no paint, solvents, insecticides, disinfectants, or anything like that. There will be no cigarette butts
  2. There will be no drugs. There will be no cat litter. There will be no coffee grounds

With the exception of toilet paper, there are no paper items allowed. Nothing like baby wipes, Q-tips, face tissue, cotton balls, tampons, or other feminine products are permitted; There will be no dental floss – even hair should be avoided; Try to stay away from fats, grease, and oils. There will be no paint, solvents, insecticides, disinfectants, or other hazardous materials allowed on the premises. It is not permissible to smoke butts; It is not necessary to take medicine. There is no litter for cats.

Septic System Basics

When a household isn’t connected to a public sewage system, it normally relies on septic systems to treat and dispose of wastewater. Sewage treatment systems require a substantial financial commitment. The correct maintenance and upkeep of a well-designed, installed, and maintained system will provide years of dependable and low-cost service. The failure of a system can become a source of pollution and public health concern, resulting in property damage, ground and surfacewater pollution (such as contamination of well water used by you and your neighbors), and the spread of disease.

Aside from that, if you are planning to sell your property, your septic system has to be in good functioning order.

Septic systems are available in a variety of configurations to accommodate a wide range of soil and site conditions.

Understanding the major components of a typical (gravity-fed) septic system, as well as how to maintain it working properly and at the lowest possible cost, can help you make the best decision possible. A conventional septic tank system is composed of three major components:

  • This is known as the Septic Tank. In order to remove particles from wastewater, store and partially decompose as much solid material as possible, while allowing the liquid (or effluent) to flow to the drainfield, a septic tank must be installed. more
  • The Drainage System After the particles have settled in the septic tank, the liquid wastewater (also known as effluent) is released to the drainfield, which is also known as an absorption or leach field, or both. more
  • The Soil is a very important factor. The soil under the drainfield is responsible for the ultimate treatment and disposal of the septic tank effluent once it has been treated. Following the passage of wastewater into the soil, organisms in the soil remediate the effluent before it percolates downward and outward, eventually entering ground or surface water sources. A drainfield’s efficacy is also affected by the kind of soil
  • For example, clay soils may be too tight to allow much wastewater to run through, while gravelly soil may be too coarse to give much treatment.
  • Septic System Inspection Done at Home In order to aid you in examining your system, a VideoField Guide and Checklist may be available at the bottom of the homepage.

Homeowners and residents have a significant impact on the functioning of their septic systems. Overloading the system with more water than it is capable of handling might result in system failure. A septic system can also be damaged by the improper disposal of chemicals or excess organic waste, such as that produced by a trash disposal. The following maintenance suggestions might assist you in ensuring that your system provides long-term, effective treatment of domestic waste.

Inspect and Pump Frequently

The most critical step in keeping your septic tank in good working order is to eliminate sludge and scum build-up before it may flow into the drainfield. The frequency with which your tank has to be pumped is determined by the size of the tank, the number of people in your family, the quantity of water utilized, and the amount of solids (from humans, garbage disposal, and any other waste) that enter the tank’s drainage system. Tanks should be pumped out on average every 3 to 5 years, depending on usage.

  • Septic Inspection and Pumping Guide
  • Inspecting Your Septic Tank
  • Septic Inspection and Pumping Guide

Use Water Efficiently

System failure is frequently caused by an excessive amount of water. The soil beneath the septic system must be able to absorb all of the water that is used in the residence. Too much water from the washing machine, dishwasher, toilets, bathtubs, and showers may not provide enough time for sludge and scum to separate properly in the drain. The less water that is consumed, the less water that enters the septic system, reducing the likelihood of system failure. For further information on water conservation, visit:

  • Indoor Water Conservation
  • Every gallon of water conserved equates to a savings of $1.00.

Minimize Solid Waste Disposal

What you flush down the toilet can have a significant influence on the performance of your septic system. Many things do not breakdown properly, and as a result, they accumulate in your septic tank. If you have the option of disposing of it in another manner, do so rather than introducing it into your system.

Keep Chemicals Out of Your System

Protect your septic system against home chemicals such as caustic drain openers, paint and pesticides. Also avoid flushing down the toilet with chemicals such as brake fluid, gasoline, and motor oil. The improper dumping of dangerous substances down the drain is damaging to the environment, as well as the bacteria that are necessary for the breakdown of wastes in a septic system, and should be avoided.

Septic System Additives

It is not essential to add a stimulant or an enhancer to a septic tank in order to assist it in functioning or “to restore bacterial equilibrium.” The naturally occurring bacteria required for the proper operation of the septic system are already present in human excrement. Septic systems, like automobiles, are designed to offer long-term, effective treatment of residential waste if they are properly run and maintained on a regular basis. The majority of systems that fail prematurely, on the other hand, are the result of poor maintenance.

If you see any of the indicators listed below, or if you have reason to believe your septic system is experiencing issues, call a trained septic technician immediately. In the event that your septic system fails, call Thurston County Environmental Health at 360-867-2673 for assistance.

  • Odors, surface sewage, moist areas, or a dense growth of plants in the drainfield region are all possible problems. Backups from the plumbing or septic tank (which are often a dark liquid with a foul odor)
  • Fixtures that take a long time to drain
  • The plumbing system is making gurgling sounds. Your drainfield may be failing if you have a well and tests reveal the presence of coliform (bacteria) or nitrates in the water from it. Even in the midst of a drought, the drainfield is covered with lush green grass.

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