Keeping an eye on your septic system ahead of rainy season

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
septic tank
Credit: WINK News

There are more than two million Florida households that rely on septic tanks. Unfortunately, poorly maintained ones could be contributing to our water crisis.

With wet season just a few months away, a university in Florida wants to make sure you’re ready. They’re offering a few simple tips to make sure your system is working properly.

The University of Florida wants to make sure that you never flush items like napkins, cotton swabs or facial tissues. They also advise that you only have professionals pump your septic system and conserve water when you can.

Hurricane season will be here before we know. While you’ll be stocking up on food and preparing your home, you should pay attention to what’s below – your septic tank.

Brittany Hagadorn is the owner of A-1 Affordable Plumbing. “So come hurricane season or rainy season, it’s even more important because of the fact that there’s standing water, and that standing water can actually back flush into your home and that, if you’re out of town for some reason, can cause thousands of dollars in damage,” Hagadorn said.

She says that for storm prep, only pump your septic tank halfway and make sure gutters do not drain into your drain field. There are also tell-tale signs your septic system has issues.

“Your toilet is gurgling or bubbling, or you have standing water in your shower. These are signs that something is just not right and it’s full and if it’s full, is there a blockage or is your septic tank not draining properly?” said Hagadorn.

By making sure everything underground is working properly, you’re protecting everything else around you.

This is where The University of Florida’s water experts come in. Dr. Yilin Zhuang is a water resources specialized agent for UF/IFAS.

“After a storm, especially your property is flooded, your private well may be contaminated,” Zhuang said.

On top of wells at risk of contamination, failing septic tanks can contaminate water with harmful nutrients and pathogens.

Governor Ron DeSantis’ budget includes $100 million for cost-share grant funds for water quality improvements, including septic conversions and upgrades, other wastewater improvements, and rural and urban stormwater system upgrades.

To learn more from UF’s experts about private wells and septic systems in our state, you can do so here.

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