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Private Sewage System Maintenance

According to Wisconsin State Statues, Marinette County requires all owners of septic systems to participate in the Private Onsite Waste Treatment Systems Maintenance. This states that all septic tanks should be inspected and/or pumped every three years. Proper operation and maintenance of your septic system can have a significant impact on how well it works and how long it lasts. Preventing groundwater pollution from failing septic systems should be a priority for every homeowner. When a septic system fails, inadequately treated domestic waste can reach the groundwater. Bacteria and viruses from human waste can lead to dysentery, hepatitis and typhoid fever. There are also unpleasant symptoms to a failing septic system such as pungent odors and a soggy lawn.

Why am I required to have my system maintained every three years?
A key reason to maintain your system is to save money! A three year inspection is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire septic system. For example, a new septic system can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 to replace a failing system compared to the $100 to $300 average yearly cost to have a septic routinely pumped and inspected. Other reasons include preventing the spread of infection and disease and protecting the ground water. Untreated wastewater from failing septic systems can contaminate nearby wells, groundwater and drinking water sources. Failing septic systems may contribute to the pollution of local rivers, lakes and shoreline that your community uses for commercial or recreational uses. Also the state plumbing code requires all systems installed in Marinette County to have maintenance completed at least every 3 years.

Why am I required to do maintenance on my cottage septic system when I only use it two or three times a year?
The requirements pertain to all septic systems and do not differentiate between primary and secondary dwellings (cottages). In some situations systems on limited use may have a higher potential of malfunctioning. The systems have an increased probability of freezing that can break components in the tank or dispersal cell potentially causing a backup of the system into the structure or discharge to the ground surface causing a human health hazard.

My tanks were pumped last year and now I received my notice. Do I need to schedule another maintenance inspection considering the tanks were pumped the year before?
In this case you should contact the service provider who pumped the tanks and ask if this individual would sign the card stating they verified the system meets the requirements of the notice. Remember that this individual is required to verify all components of the system and not just the pumping of the tanks. As per state code, the owner is ultimately responsible for ensuring the operation and maintenance of the septic system.

What are the licensed pumpers, plumbers, ect. required to inspect?
Tank should be inspected for the condition of the manholes, observation pipes, cracks or leaks in the tank, baffle/filter condition and pumping if needed. Tanks that have combined sludge and scum levels over 1/3 the tank capacity shall be pumped.The pump tanks should also be inspected for proper operation of alarms, pumps, etc. The dispersal cell(s) should be visually inspected for discharge to the ground surface and verifying effluent levels if any in the observation pipes.

In general when is the best time to have my tank pumped?
It is best to pump your septic system spring, summer and early fall. Holding off until late fall increases the possibility of freezing your septic system. All septic tanks need warmth to maintain a temperature above freezing thru the winter months. In order to avoid freeze-ups it is best to perform the maintenance in the summer months. If the tanks cannot be pumped until late fall or later provide additional insulation over the tank(s).