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Septic Tanks System Installing
Man Holding Pipe

Be Kind To Your Septic

And your septic system will be kind to the lake. Help protect our streams and lakes by following these basic maintenance tips – and make sure your family and quests know them too.

Septic Tips

Reduce the amount of water going down your drains by installing low flow toilets and showerheads and water-efficient clothes and dish washers, and don’t let taps run. If too much water enters the tank in too short a time (eg. more than one load of laundry a day), untreated waste is forced out into the leaching bed.


Don’t poison the good bacteria that make your septic work. Use biodegradable, non-toxic, phosphate-free and chlorine-free cleaning products. Never flush paints, solvents or other chemicals.


Remember your septic is not a garbage can. Don’t use a garburator or put grease, oils, sanitary products, cigarette butts or pharmaceuticals down the drain.  Minimize the amount of tissue you flush.


Don’t connect a water softener to your septic system. The salt in the backwash can destroy the essential bacteria, overload the system and damage your tank.


Have your tank pumped out regularly by a licenced service – at least every 3 to 5 years – more often if you have a lot of guests.  Keep a record of when it’s pumped and of any maintenance performed.


Know where your septic tank and leaching bed are, and tell your guests and trades people. Don’t drive over the tank or bed, park on them or dig in the area.


Keep the leaching bed as dry as possible and keep tree roots away.  Divert downspouts away and don’t allow surface water to drain toward or pool near the system.  Plant over the bed with native grasses or small ground covers that don’t need watering.  Keep trees and shrubs at least three metres away.


Watch for trouble signs – sewage odours, slow drains, unusually lush grass, spongy soil or gray or black liquid surfacing over the system (or worse, backing up through your drains inside).


If you see trouble signs, or think you may have overloaded your system, act fast.  Immediately get your system pumped and checked by a reputable septic service.  Don’t try quick fixes such as “special additives” – they can make matters worse.


If your sewage is not getting properly treated, or is leaking, it can contaminate water wells, groundwater, lakes and streams with E. coli bacteria and other harmful substances. Release of phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients contributes to the excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae in our lakes.


Taking regular care of your system will protect our lakes, your health and your bank account.  Replacing a failed system and remediating its impacts costs thousands of dollars.


To learn more about managing your septic system, click here ( and look for the Septic Smart! brochure. Or check out the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association’s Septic Do’s and Don’ts, (

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