Pigeon River Fund grant to help fix failing septic systems

out pipesA $30,000 grant to repair failing septic systems in Haywood County will help reduce bacteria contamination in local waterways.


The grant was received by Haywood Waterways and the Haywood County Environmental Health Department from the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

If a septic system fails, everything dumped in sinks and flushed down toilets can leak into groundwater and streams, including human waste, laundry detergents, cleaning chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Bacteria and viruses from the human digestive tract can cause ear infections, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, dysentery, and other serious health problems. 

Clues of a failing system include slow plumbing, foul odors, excessive grass growth, soggy soil, and standing ground water near the system. The most common cause of problems is excess water use. 

Recommendations for keeping a system in good working order are:

• Don’t flush household chemicals, such as bleach, disinfectants, paints, solvents, pesticides, antifreeze, antibiotics, and medications. Also, limit the use of anti-bacterial soap and drain cleaners. Chemicals in these products kill the bacteria that purify sewage.

• Don’t flush hanging toilet cleaners, coffee grounds, cooking oils, and feminine hygiene products. These can clog the system and cause raw sewage to back up into the house.

• Direct roof drains and sump pump drains away from septic drain fields. Over-saturation of soil keeps soil from absorbing and cleaning wastewater. 

• Don’t park automobiles or other heavy items over a system. They can crush the drain lines.

• Plant only grass over and near your septic system; roots from trees or shrubs may clog and damage the absorption field. 

• Pump the septic tank regularly; it’s the best preventative maintenance a homeowner can do. A typical 1,000 gallon tank for a family of four should be pumped about every three years. Pumping prevents solids from clogging the drain lines and extends the life of the system.

Haywood Waterways and the Haywood County Environmental Health Department will continue the septic repair program as long as grant funds are available. Interested homeowners should contact the Environmental Health Department at 828.452.6682. 

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