Quick Links

Bobby Simmons, Director of Public Works

Our Mission: The mission of the Public Works Department is to provide the residents, businesses, and visitors of D’Iberville with high­quality, efficient, and responsive services.

The Public Works Department is divided into multiple departments that consist of: Beautification, Drainage, Maintenance, Mechanic Shop, Streets, and Water and Sewer.

By providing planning, resource coordination, leadership, and financial management services, our Public Works Team works to accomplish the overall mission of our department.

Office Hours:
7:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday

Before You Dig
Protect yourself and your property against all underground utility damage and liability.

Call 811 before you dig to find out where the underground utility lines are located. There is no cost for this service and it is the law. Go
to www.ms811.org to find out more.

Clearing the Way!

The Public Works Department is responsible for maintenance, repair, and improvement of streets, street lights, traffic signals and signs, drainage, and water and sewer systems. The department is also responsible for maintenance and repair to city rights of way, buildings, vehicles, and equipment. The Public Works Department is comprised of three sub-departments: Water and Sewer, Streets and Drainage, and Parks and Recreation.

Need help in our department?

We are here to help you.

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 6519

Office Phone
228-392-9734

After hours emergency contact
228-392-2310

Department Contact Form

Note: Please provide an email address or phone number for a response.

Safety Tips

  1. Roads that are covered with water can be dangerous. TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!
  2. Everyone can make a difference. REPORT TRAFFIC LIGHTS THAT ARE OUT!
  3. Keep our City systems safe. REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY AROUND WELLS AND LIFT STATIONS!


Bobby Simmons

Director


Phone:
228-392-9734
Email:
bsimmons@diberville.ms.us




Tanya Burgess

Administrative Assistant


Phone:
228-392-9734
Email:
tburgess@diberville.ms.us




Thomas Burrows

Water and Sewer Superintendent


Phone:
228-273-3374
Email:
tburrows@diberville.ms.us


Hazardous Household Waste Drop-Off

Accepts the following:

  • Latex or oil based paint
  • Used cooking or automobile oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Household, marine and car batteries
  • White goods such as freezers and refrigerators
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Tires
  • E-waste (electronics) such as computers, cell phones, telephones, televisions

Street Lights

If there is a light out on your street or in your neighborhood, please report the outage directly to your power company. For all other light outages, please contact Public Works at 228-392-9734.

Coast Electric
Phone: 877-769-2372

Mississippi Power Company
Residential Customer Care
Phone: 1-800-532-1502
24 hrs. / 7 days

Singing River Electric Power Association
Phone: 228-497-1313

Helpful Contact Numbers

Frequently Asked Questions

7:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., Monday- Friday

10091 7th Ave. D’Iberville MS 39540

All after-hours emergency calls 228-392-2310

Call 228-392-9734 and speak with someone in the Public Works office.

Call Water Billing at 228-392-2310. Their hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

The price varies according to size and availability. For more information, please contact the Water Utility Billing Department Supervisor to request the fee(s) amount by calling 228-392-2310.

Waste Management is currently responsible for residential pick up. You can contact them at the Harrison County Utility Authority at 228-701- 9086.

Pelican is currently responsible for curbside pickup of debris. You can contact them at 228-232-0850.

Household trash and recycles are picked up on Thursdays.

Please place trash curbside on City right of way. Do not place trash on drain inlets, near fire hydrants, transformers, under power lines, near mailboxes or gas/electric meters.

Hazardous items can be taken to Harrison County location at 10076 Lorraine Road, Gulfport, MS. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

Dead animals on City Right-of-Way are picked up by a designated employee in the Public Works office. Public Works cannot remove dead animals from private property. Call 228-392-9734 to report.

Dispose of used grease, after cooling, in your garbage – not in the sink. Grease is the biggest problem we have in our sewer system.

Public Works maintains City-owned lights. Please report your street light outages directly to your utility provider.

Protect yourselves and your property against all underground utility damage and liability (not just City utilities such as water and wastewater pipes)

Call 811 before you dig to find out where the underground utility lines might be buried. The service is free and it’s the law. Go
to www.ms811.org to find out more.

Sandbags may be made available to the public in the event of a declared emergency. Please contact our office at 228-392-9734 for further information.

Download Our Application

Application for Garbage, Water & Sewer Service

To establish new service, make utility payments or general billing inquiries contact the Water and Sewer Department at 228-392-2310. You may also email the Billing Supervisor at creece@diberville.ms.us.

Once you fill out the form, it can be emailed back to Carol Reece at creece@diberville.ms.us. Please call 228-273-3337 with any questions.

After hours emergency contact for water and sewer issues: 228-392-2310

Streets & Drainage

The Streets and Drainage Department maintain roadways, storm drains, and ditches within the City. We also maintain the City street signs and manage repairs on roads, sidewalks, and storm boxes. The City of D’Iberville works hand and hand with all departments within the city, county, and state agencies.

The information in this section of the city’s web site is part of the city’s continuing effort to educate the public about the importance of protecting water quality through land use and natural resource planning.

The city’s stormwater management plan, which is mandated by the Department of Environmental Quality, is designed to help protect and improve water quality, which can be jeopardized by pollution carried by stormwater runoff. The program has been developed in a collaborative effort with nearby cities of  Gulfport, Biloxi, Long Beach, Pass Christian, and Harrison County. The plan is called Stormwater Phase II.

The specific issues to be addressed:

  • 1. General Stormwater Runoff Pollution
  • 2. Illegal Dumping and Improper Disposal of Household Hazardous Wastes, Automobile Wastes and Disposal of Litter and Debris
  • 3. Erosion and Sedimentation Associated with Construction and Development
  • 4. Leaking Individual On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems and Sewage Pollution

The program components include Public Education, Public Involvement, Illicit Discharges Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Runoff Controls, Post-Construction Runoff Controls, and Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping.

The contact person for D’Iberville stormwater runoff management is Bobby Simmons, who can be reached at (228)860-2897 or by email at bsimmons@diberville.ms.us

Here are some websites that can provide additional information on stormwater runoff pollution.

EPA’s Non Point Source Pollution Page – [Website]

The EPA’s website provides links to information and resources in a number of categories including publications, training and meetings, applicable regulations. Contains fact sheets, articles, and resources that define Non Point Source Pollution (NPS) and how it can be prevented or reduced. Topics include household chemicals, septic systems, and impervious surfaces. This site also includes links to the Non Point Source Kids Page that contains games, puzzles, interactive activities, and education materials.

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources – [Website]

The Department of Marine Resources website has a wealth of information for the public, with some info specifically targeted to children, teachers, boaters, marinas, etc. Information includes pollution prevention, non-point source pollution, stormwater runoff management and best management practices provided by Mississippi Gulf Coast Stormwater Management Toolbox, stormwater management tools for schools, Coastal Cleanups and workshop information for teachers.

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality – [Website]
NonPoint Source Education Page

The MDEQ site contains links to information related to a variety of public education, outreach, and involvement programs that are available through MDEQ. These programs include information for teachers, students, volunteer groups, homeowners, volunteer groups, and stormwater management officials.

Urban Stormwater and Construction – [Website]

This site contains a narrative description of urban stormwater impacts including those resulting from construction. Provides links to stormwater permit information and BMP design manuals for construction. It is targeted to the construction industry, stormwater managers, and the public.

Non-Point Source Pollution Literature and Publication – [Website]

This webpage contains links to MDEQ-sponsored literature and publications on non point source pollution, targeted to the public, construction industry and stormwater managers.

Mississippi Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Guidance Manual for Construction Activities – [Website]

This booklet provides a guide for developing a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as required in the state’s Construction Storm Water General NDPES Permit

MS State University Extension Service – [Website]

This website contains numerous fact sheets on the Correct Use of Your Septic Tank, Control of Garden Bugs, Household Cleaning Products, Maintaining a Sanitary Septic System, Lawn Mulching for Homeowners, and Non-Chemical Weed Control.

Planning & Design Manual for the Control of Erosion, Sediment & Storm Water – [Website]

This manual provides technical guidance for the control of erosion, sediment, and stormwater from non-point sources and for the preparation of erosion, sediment, and stormwater control plans as needed. The manual is a cooperative effort by: Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Soil & Water Conservation Commission and the USDA Soil Conservation Service.

 

City of D’Iberville Storm Water Management Ordinance

311 – Stormwater Sewer System

311.1 A subsurface stormwater sewer system, including drainage culverts, inlets, catch basins, junction boxes and all other necessary components shall be installed by the developer throughout the proposed subdivision.

311.1.1 The entire storm drainage system should be designed to carry not less than the stormwater from a rainfall expected to occur once in twenty-five (25) years with a runoff factor calculated on the basis of topography and percolation test subject to the approval of the city and consistent with the City’s current stromwater management plan.

311.1.2 Erosion, sediment, and stromwater controls consistent with guidance from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality shall be incorporated into the design.

311.1.3 Stormwater controls shall limit the rate of discharge from the property to the pre-development flow rate unless otherwise approved by the Building Official.

311.1.4 In no case shall ditches be permitted without the prior approval of the Building Official.

311.1.5 The length of a swale shall not exceed three hundred (300) feet unless approved by the Building Official. Maintenance of swales shall not be the responsibility of the City of D’Iberville.

311.2 Areas subject to ponding or inundation must be indicated on the preliminary and final plats. In as much as Federal and Mississippi State Law, regulations and procedures allow, provisions must be made to eliminate the ponding before the Planning Commission recommends approval of the plat to the Mayor and Council.

311.3 No property proposed to be subdivided within the City of D’Iberville will be allowed to be filled, graded, cleared or contoured, nor shall any other action be taken thereon whereby the surface drainage from said property will be created, increased, redirected, re-routed, funneled, dispersed, or otherwise affected unless and until all requirements and provisions of his Ordinance are fully complied with. Provided, however, if the property in question is less than 2,500 square feet in size or the amount of fill or grading involved is, in total, less than 5 cubic yards, the provisions of this section shall not apply, unless such area will affect any natural drain.

311.4 Prior to any work being done falling within the provision of these regulations, preliminary plat approval shall first be obtained from the Mayor and Council of the City of D’Iberville, Mississippi.

311.4.1 A storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) shall be included in the plans.

a. A copy of MDEQ approval shall be submitted if the parcel is over five acres.

b. A copy of the pre and post development and retention/detention pond calculations shall be submitted if the parcel is over two acres.

311.5 Should the City determine that the proposed subdivision significantly impacts  the existing upstream or downstream stormwater drainage system and requires the capacity of the City’s stormwater drainage system to be increased in any way, the City shall estimate the total cost of same including any city costs for engineering.

311.5.1 This cost shall be prorated by the percentage of increased drainage used by the developer’s proposed subdivision.

311.5.2 Should the developer agree, upon payment of such cost to the City, the Building Official will favorably recommend the stormwater drainage system during the review and approval process for preliminary plat.

311.5.3 Should the developer disagree, these figures will be submitted to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the Mayor and Council for their decision as to:

a. If the developer should be required to pay any fee.

b. The amount of the fee that should be paid to the city to offset the impact of such city drainage.

c. If additional drainage capacity is provided in enlarging the drainage system, that any other developers/builders in the area will also pay a percentage based upon the increased drainage used by them. Upon decision by the Mayor and Council, the developer shall pay the fee required by the City, prior to preliminary plat approval.

311.6 Should applicant be aggrieved by the decision of the Mayor and Council, he may appeal such decision to the Circuit Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, in the time and manner prescribed by law.

311.7 The impact of development on the off-site upstream and downstream drainage will be calculated.

311.7.1 Calculations will be provided prior to preliminary plat approval.

311.7.2 Development shall in no way be an obstruction to natural or existing drainage.

311.7.3 The City will determine how far upstream and downstream the developer’s engineer must evaluate the impact of the proposed subdivision’s off-site drainage.

311.8 The grading and drainage plan will show the existing and general proposed finished grading of each lot, as well as proposed finished floor elevation for each lot. Erosion, sediment, and stormwater controls consistent with guidance from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) shall be incorporated into the design. Stormwater controls shall limit the rate of discharge from the property to the pre-development flow rate unless otherwise approved by the Building Official.

311.9 Storm drainage improvements will consist of adequate pipes, catch basins and curb inlets. Corrugated metal will not be acceptable. Construction of any new open ditches will not be allowed. Only existing natural drains that already run through the development may be re-utilized in the overall subdivision drainage plan unless a special variance is granted by the Mayor and Council after review and findings by the Planning Commission. However, swales as defined in paragraph 311.7, may be used to a limited extent.

311.10 Drainage of storm water will not be allowed to cross the center line of any street as it flows over the street pavement surface. Gutter flow lines must drain into a curb inlet or catch basin and the use of flumes through the back of curbs will not be allowed. Alleys may be utilized for the conveyance of storm water provided the anticipated volume of flow and depth of flow is indicated on the drainage plan and approved by the City.

311.11 Catch basins and curb inlets will be spaced at an approximate distance to ensure that water in the gutter will not be more than eight (8) feet into the street measured from the back of the gutter. Curb inlets shall not have more than a seven (7) inch vertical opening and shall not cause a hazard to pedestrians. Junction boxes, curb inlets, and catch basin sizes and openings shall be designed to be of sufficient capacity to handle the amount of stormwater drainage into it and shall in no way cause a restriction to the amount of drainage going through the inlet or outlet pipes at that respective location.

311.12 The outlet ends of culverts will terminate with a flared end section or head-wall with a slope to the top of the bank above the outlet of a minimum of three (3) feet horizontally to one (1) foot vertically. The outlet ends of culverts will also have permanent erosion control and dissipaters as well as provisions to prevent sedimentation of downstream drainage-ways during subdivision construction and development on each lot.

311.12.1 Stream or ditch banks opposite of an outfall structure shall be armored with rip-rap or an approved equivalent material to prevent erosion.

311.13 The stormwater sewer system design and plans shall include the following:

311.13.1 The proposed finish invert elevations will be shown at the inlets, outlets and at any changes in slopes.

311.13.2 Catch basin or curb inlet elevations will be shown.

311.13.3 Calculations will be provided for the amount of rainwater runoff, based on a 25-year flood storm frequency, and required sizes, slopes and actual capacity for all culverts and ditches to handle this runoff.

311.13.4 Any storm drain system installed within the city’s right-of-way must consist of reinforced concrete pipe.

311.13.5 Existing and proposed ditch cross sections in natural drainage areas will be provided.

311.13.6 All drainage structures (inlets, head-walls, and manholes) shall be numbered on the plans.

311.13.7 All ditches, where allowed, shall be lined with rock when discharging into the City of D’Iberville drainage system.

311.14 Subdivision drainage shall be designed in a manner where the site drains to existing storm drain structures. Should additional drainage structures be required, the proposed drainage shall be placed underground in pipes if al all possible and placed in a permanent drainage easement.

311.14.1 Drainage easements shall be kept clear of all items which could adversely affect the drainage. If items such as fences, landscaping material, and other appurtenances installed by the property owner in the easement must be removed by the city to service the drainage system, the cost of removal and replacement shall be the responsibility of the property owner.

311.15 The owner/developer shall compile a video library of the upstream and downstream suctions of each storm drain tap. The existing drainage pipe shall be video taped from the point of new connections to the nearest inlet in either direction, but shall not exceed three hundred (300) feet. When completed the video tape files shall be submitted to the City Building Official.

311.16 All drainage pipe located underneath any existing or future public roadway shall be RCP.

Illicit Discharge Reporting

To report illicit discharges the contact person for D’Iberville stormwater runoff management is Bobby Simmons. Bobby can be reached at (228)860-2897 or by email at bsimmons@diberville.ms.us.

Illicit discharges can also be reported to Harrison County:

co.harrison.ms.us/departments/engineering/stormwater.asp or please call the Harrison County Stormwater Hotline at 228-832-3356.

The city’s stormwater management plan, which is mandated by the Department of Environmental Quality, is designed to help protect and improve water quality, which can be jeopardized by pollution carried by stormwater runoff. The program has been developed in a collaborative effort with nearby cities of  Gulfport, Biloxi, Long Beach, Pass Christian, and Harrison County. The plan is called Stormwater Phase II.

The specific issues to be addressed:

  • 1. General Stormwater Runoff Pollution
  • 2. Illegal Dumping and Improper Disposal of Household Hazardous Wastes, Automobile Wastes and Disposal of Litter and Debris
  • 3. Erosion and Sedimentation Associated with Construction and Development
  • 4. Leaking Individual On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems and Sewage Pollution

The program components include Public Education, Public Involvement, Illicit Discharges Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Runoff Controls, Post-Construction Runoff Controls, and Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping.

The contact person for D’Iberville stormwater runoff management is Bobby Simmons, who can be reached at (228)860-2897 or by email at bsimmons@diberville.ms.us

Here are some websites that can provide additional information on stormwater runoff pollution.

EPA’s Non Point Source Pollution Page – [Website]

The EPA’s website provides links to information and resources in a number of categories including publications, training and meetings, applicable regulations. Contains fact sheets, articles, and resources that define Non Point Source Pollution (NPS) and how it can be prevented or reduced. Topics include household chemicals, septic systems, and impervious surfaces. This site also includes links to the Non Point Source Kids Page that contains games, puzzles, interactive activities, and education materials.

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources – [Website]

The Department of Marine Resources website has a wealth of information for the public, with some info specifically targeted to children, teachers, boaters, marinas, etc. Information includes pollution prevention, non-point source pollution, stormwater runoff management and best management practices provided by Mississippi Gulf Coast Stormwater Management Toolbox, stormwater management tools for schools, Coastal Cleanups and workshop information for teachers.

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality – [Website] NonPoint Source Education Page

The MDEQ site contains links to information related to a variety of public education, outreach, and involvement programs that are available through MDEQ. These programs include information for teachers, students, volunteer groups, homeowners, volunteer groups, and stormwater management officials.

Urban Stormwater and Construction – [Website]

This site contains a narrative description of urban stormwater impacts including those resulting from construction. Provides links to stormwater permit information and BMP design manuals for construction. It is targeted to the construction industry, stormwater managers, and the public.

Non-Point Source Pollution Literature and Publication – [Website]

This webpage contains links to MDEQ-sponsored literature and publications on non point source pollution, targeted to the public, construction industry and stormwater managers.

Mississippi Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Guidance Manual for Construction Activities – [Website]

This booklet provides a guide for developing a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) as required in the state’s Construction Storm Water General NDPES Permit

MS State University Extension Service – [Website]

This website contains numerous fact sheets on the Correct Use of Your Septic Tank, Control of Garden Bugs, Household Cleaning Products, Maintaining a Sanitary Septic System, Lawn Mulching for Homeowners, and Non-Chemical Weed Control.

Planning & Design Manual for the Control of Erosion, Sediment & Storm Water – [Website]

This manual provides technical guidance for the control of erosion, sediment, and stormwater from nonpoint sources and for the preparation of erosion, sediment, and stormwater control plans as needed. The manual is a cooperative effort by: Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Soil & Water Conservation Commission and the USDA Soil Conservation Service.

F.O.G. Prevention

A Little Grease Can Cause BIG Problems!

Grease can enter the sewer system at virtually any point, including your kitchen sink. Grease can come from a variety of sources such as:

  • Meat Fats
  • Lard
  • Cooking Oil
  • Shortening
  • Butter and Margarine
  • Food Scraps
  • Baking Goods
  • Sauces
  • Dairy Produces

These materials will solidify in the sewer system over time causing a messy mass to grow until the flow of water is obstructed and sewage begins to back up. The results of a grease blocked sewer pipe can be:

  • Raw sewage overflowing into your home or your neighbor’s home.
  • An expensive and unpleasant cleanup that often must be paid for by you, the homeowner.
  • Potential contact with harmful organisms.
  • An increase in operation and maintenance costs to the City sewer department, which causes higher sewer bills for customers.
  • Sewage overflows in streets and rivers.

Here a some steps that can be taken to prevent this problem:

  1. Do not put dairy products, fats, oil, grease, or greasy foods down the garbage disposal or drain.
  2. Freeze small amounts of fats, oils and grease in a lidded container and dispose of it in a trash receptacle.
  3. Mix small amounts of cooking oil with an absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds, place it in a lidded container and dispose of it in a trash receptacle.
  4. Wipe additional grease from pots, pans and plates with a paper towel before placing them in the sink or dishwasher.
  5. For large amounts of cooking oil and other fats (1 gallon or more), call your local landfill or waste disposal facility.

Preventing sewer backups from F.O.G. blockages saves residents money and protects the environment!

Septic Systems

Did you know that as a homeowner you’re responsible for maintaining your septic system?

Did you know that maintaining your septic system protects your investment in your home?

Did you know that you should periodically inspect your system and pump out your septic tank?

If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment

of house-hold wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars.

A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your

home, your septic system must be in good working order.

This guide will help you care for your septic system. It will help you understand how your system works and what steps you can take as a homeowner to ensure your system will work properly. To help you learn more, consult the resources listed at the back of this booklet.

Components

A typical septic system has four main components:

a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest or remove

most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater.

Your Septic System is your responsibility!

How does it work?

Top Four Things You Can Do to Protect Your Septic System

  1. Regularly inspect your system and pump your tank as necessary.
  2. Use water efficiently.
  3. Don’t dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets.
  4. Care for your drainfield.

Septic tank

All of your household wastewater exits your home through a pipe to the septic tank.

The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the

wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming sludge) and oil and grease to float to the surface (as

scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the

septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield.

Newer tanks generally have risers with lids at the ground surface to allow easy location, inspection, and pumping of the tank.

Septic system aliases:

  • On-lot system
  • Onsite system
  • Individual sewage disposal system
  • Onsite sewage disposal system
  • Onsite wastewater treatment system

To prevent buildup, sludge and floating scum need to be removed through periodic pumping of the septic tank. Regular inspections and pumping are the best and cheapest way to keep your septic system in good working order.

Drainfield

The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. The partially treated wastewater is pushed along into the drainfield for further treatment every time new wastewater enters the tank.

If the drainfield is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or create backups in plumbing fixtures and prevent treatment of all wastewater.

A reserve drainfield, required by many states, is an area on your property suitable for a new drainfield system if your current drainfield fails. Treat this area with the same care as your septic system.

Soil

Septic tank wastewater flows to the drainfield, where it percolates into the soil, which provides final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. Suitable soil is necessary for successful wastewater treatment.

Alternative systems

Because many areas don’t have soils suitable for typical septic systems, you might have or need an alternative system. You might also have or need an alternative system if there are too many typical septic systems in one area or the systems are too close to groundwater or surface waters.

Finding Your System

Your septic tank, drainfield, and reserve drainfield should be clearly designated on the “as-built” drawing for your home. (An “as-built” drawing is a line drawing that accurately portrays the buildings on your property and is usually filed in your local land records.) You might also see lids or manhole covers for your septic tank. Older tanks are often hard to find because there are no visible parts. An inspector/pumper can help you locate your septic system if your septic tank has no risers.

Alternative septic systems use new technology to improve treatment processes and might need special care and maintenance. Some alternative systems use sand, peat, or plastic media instead of soil to promote wastewater treatment. Other systems might use wetlands, lagoons, aerators, or disinfection devices.

Float switches, pumps, and other electrical or mechanical components are often used in alternative systems. Alternative systems should be inspected annually. Check with your local health department or installer for more information on operation and maintenance needs if you have or need an alternative system.

When septic systems are properly designed, constructed, and maintained, they effectively reduce or eliminate most human health or environmental threats posed by pollutants in household wastewater. However, they require regular maintenance or they can fail. Septic systems need to be monitored to ensure that they work properly throughout their service lives.

Saving money

A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected regularly is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value and could pose a legal liability.

Protecting health and the environment

Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen, phosphorus, and disease- causing bacteria and viruses. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.

With one-fourth of U.S. homes using septic systems, more than 4 billion gallons of wastewater per day is dispersed below the ground’s surface.

Inadequately treated sewage from septic systems can be a cause of groundwater contamination. It poses a significant threat to drinking water and human health because it can contaminate drinking water wells and cause diseases and infections in people and animals. Improperly treated sewage that contaminates nearby surface waters also increases the chance of swimmers contracting a variety of infectious diseases. These range from eye and ear infections to acute gastrointestinal illness and diseases like hepatitis.

Inspect and pump frequently

You should have a typical septic system inspected at least every 3 years by a professional and your tank pumped as recommended by the inspector (generally every 3 to 5 years). Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components need to be inspected more often, generally once a year. Your service provider should inspect for leaks and look at the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank. If the bottom of the scum layer is within 6 inches of the bottom of the outlet tee or the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet tee, your tank needs to be pumped. Remember to note the sludge and scum levels determined by your service provider in your operation and maintenance records. This information will help you decide how often pumping is necessary.

How do I maintain my septic system?

What Does an Inspection Include?

  • Locating the system.
  • Uncovering access holes.
  • Flushing the toilets.
  • Checking for signs of back up.
  • Measuring scum and sludge layers.
  • Identifying any leaks.
  • Inspecting mechanical components.
  • Pumping the tank if necessary.

Four major factors influence the frequency of pumping: the number of people in your household, the amount of wastewater generated (based on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used), the volume of solids in the wastewater (for example, using a garbage disposal increases the amount of solids), and septic tank size.

Some makers of septic tank additives claim that their products break down the sludge in septic tanks so the tanks never need to be pumped. Not everyone agrees on the effectiveness of additives. In fact, septic tanks already contain the microbes they need for effective treatment. Periodic pumping is a much better way to ensure that septic systems work properly and provide many years of service. Regardless, every septic tank requires periodic pumping.

In the service report, the pumper should note any repairs completed and whether the tank is in good condition. If the pumper recommends additional repairs he or she can’t perform, hire someone to make the repairs as soon as possible.

Use water efficiently

Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system. Efficient water use can improve the operation of the septic system and reduce the risk of failure.

High-efficiency toilets

Toilet use accounts for 25 to 30 percent of household water use. Do you know how many gallons of water your toilet uses to empty the bowl? Most older homes have toilets with 3.5- to 5-gallon reservoirs, while newer high-efficiency toilets use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush. If you have problems with your septic system being flooded with household water, consider reducing the volume of water in the toilet tank if you don’t have a high-efficiency model or replacing your existing toilets with high-efficiency models.

Faucet aerators and high efficiency showerheads

Faucet aerators help reduce water use and the volume of water entering your septic system. High-efficiency  showerheads or shower flow restrictors also reduce water use.

Water fixtures

Check to make sure your toilet’s reservoir isn’t leaking into the bowl. Add five drops of liquid food coloring to the reservoir before bed. If the dye is in the bowl the next morning, the reservoir is leaking and repairs are needed.

A small drip from a faucet adds many gallons of unnecessary water to your system every day. To see how much a

leak adds to your water usage, place a cup under the drip for 10 minutes. Multiply the amount of water in the cup by 144 (the number of minutes in 24 hours, divided by 10). This is the total amount of clean water traveling to your septic system each day from that little leak.

Use Water Efficiently!

  • Install high-efficiency showerheads
  • Fill the bathtub with only as much water as you need
  • Turn off faucets while shaving or brushing your teeth
  • Run the dishwasher and clothes washer only when they’re full
  • Use toilets to flush sanitary waste only (not kitty litter, diapers, or other trash)
  • Make sure all faucets are completely turned off when not in use
  • Maintain your plumbing to eliminate leaks
  • Install aerators in the faucets in your kitchen and bathroom
  • Replace old dishwashers, toilets, and clothes washers with new, highefficiency models.

Watch your drains

What goes down the drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works.

Waste disposal

What shouldn’t you flush down your toilet? Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and bathroom items that can clog and potentially damage septic system components if they become trapped.

Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system or might contaminate surface waters and groundwater. If your septic tank pumper is concerned about quickly accumulating scum layers, reduce the flow of floatable materials like fats, oils, and grease into your tank or be prepared to pay for more frequent inspections and pumping.

Washing machines

By selecting the proper load size, you’ll reduce water waste. Washing small loads of laundry on the large-load cycle wastes precious water and energy. If you can’t select load size, run only full loads of laundry.

Doing all the household laundry in one day might seem like a time-saver, but it could be harmful to your septic system. Doing load after load does not allow your septic tank time to adequately treat wastes. You could be flooding your drainfield without allowing sufficient recovery time. Try to spread water usage throughout the week. A new Energy Star clothes washer uses 35 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than a standard model.

Care for your drainfield

Your drainfield is an important part of your septic system. Here are a few things you should do to maintain it:

  • Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.
  • Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.
  • Keep roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and other rainwater or surface water drainage systems away from the drainfield. Flooding the drainfield with excessive water slows down or stops treatment processes and can cause plumbing fixtures to back up. If the amount of wastewater entering the system is more than the system can handle, the wastewater backs up into the house or yard and creates a health hazard.

You can suspect a system failure not only when a foul odor is emitted but also when partially treated wastewater flows up to the ground surface. By the time you can smell or see a problem, however, the damage might already be done.

By limiting your water use, you can reduce the amount of wastewater your system must treat. When you have your system inspected and pumped as needed, you reduce the chance of system failure.

A system installed in unsuitable soils can also fail. Other failure risks include tanks that are inaccessible for maintenance, drainfields that are paved or parked on, and tree roots or defective components that interfere with the treatment process.

What can make my system fail?

Failure symptoms

The most obvious septic system failures are easy to spot. Check for pooling water or muddy soil around your septic system or in your basement. Notice whether your toilet or sink backs up when you flush or do laundry. You might also notice strips of bright green grass over the drainfield. Septic systems also fail when partially treated wastewater comes into contact with groundwater. This type of failure is not easy to detect, but it can result in the pollution of wells, nearby streams, or other bodies of water. Check with a septic system professional and the local health department if you suspect such a failure.

Household toxics

Does someone in your house use the utility sink to clean out paint rollers or flush toxic cleaners? Oil-based paints, solvents, and large volumes of toxic cleaners should not enter your septic system. Even latex paint cleanup waste should be minimized. Squeeze all excess paint and stain from brushes and rollers on several layers of newspaper before rinsing. Leftover paints and wood stains should be taken to your local household hazardous waste collection center. Remember that your septic system contains a living collection of organisms that digest and treat waste.

Household cleaners

For the most part, your septic system’s bacteria should recover quickly after small amounts of household cleaning products have entered the system. Of course, some cleaning products are less toxic to your system than others. Labels can help key you into the potential toxicity of various products. The word “Danger” or “Poison” on a label indicates that the product is highly hazardous. “Warning” tells you the product is moderately hazardous. “Caution” means the product is slightly hazardous.

Hot tubs

Hot tubs are a great way to relax. Unfortunately, your septic system was not designed to handle large quantities of water from your hot tub. Emptying hot tub water into your septic system stirs the solids in the tank and pushes them out into the drainfield, causing it to clog and fail. Draining your hot tub into a septic system or over the drainfield can overload the system. Instead, drain cooled hot tub water onto turf or landscaped areas well away from the septic tank and drainfield, and in accordance with local regulations. Use the same caution when draining your swimming pool.

Water Purification Systems

Some freshwater purification systems, including water softeners, unnecessarily pump water into the septic system. This can contribute hundreds of gallons of water to the septic tank, causing agitation of solids and excess flow to the drainfield. Check with your licensed plumbing professional about alternative routing for such freshwater treatment systems.

Garbage disposals

Eliminating the use of a garbage disposal can reduce the amount of grease and solids entering the septic tank and possibly clogging the drainfield. A garbage disposal grinds up kitchen scraps, suspends them in water, and sends the mixture to the septic tank. Once in the septic tank, some of the materials are broken down by bacterial action, but most of the grindings have to be pumped out of the tank. Using a garbage disposal frequently can significantly increase the accumulation of sludge and scum in your septic tank, resulting in the need for more frequent pumping.

Improper design or installation

Some soils provide excellent wastewater treatment; others don’t. For this reason, the design of the drainfield of a septic system is based on the results of soil analysis. Homeowners and system designers sometimes underestimate the significance of good soils or believe soils can handle any volume of wastewater applied to them. Many failures can be attributed to having an undersized drainfield or high seasonal groundwater table. Undersized septic tanks—another design failure—allow solids to clog the drainfield and result in system failure.

If a septic tank isn’t watertight, water can leak into and out of the system. Usually, water from the environment leaking into the system causes hydraulic overloading, taxing the system beyond its capabilities and causing inadequate treatment and sometimes sewage to flow up to the ground surface. Water leaking out of the septic tank is a significant health hazard because the leaking wastewater has not yet been treated.

Even when systems are properly designed, failures due to poor installation practices can occur. If the drainfield is not properly leveled, wastewater can overload the system. Heavy equipment can damage the drainfield during installation which can lead to soil compaction and reduce the wastewater infiltration rate. And if surface drainage isn’t diverted away from the field, it can flow into and saturate the drainfield.

Septic System Dos and Don’ts

Do’s

  • Check with the local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper if you have a garbage disposal unit to make sure that your septic system can handle this additional waste.
  • Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to the system.
  • Use water efficiently to avoid overloading the septic system. Be sure to repair leaky faucets or toilets. Use high-efficiency fixtures.
  • Use commercial bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents in moderation. Many people prefer to clean their toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda.
  • Check with your local regulatory agency or inspector/pumper before allowing water softener backwash to enter your septic tank.
  • Keep records of repairs, pumpings, inspections, permits issued, and other system maintenance activities.
  • Learn the location of your septic system. Keep a sketch of it with your maintenance record for service visits.
  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped as necessary by a licensed inspector/contractor.
  • Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.

Don’ts

  • Your septic system is not a trash can. Don’t put dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, latex paint, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals into your system.
  • Don’t use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead, use boiling water or a drain snake to open clogs.

Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, tank, or other septic system components.

Outdoor Tips for Conserving Water

  • Water only in the late evening or early morning hours. 
  • Don’t overwater! Maximum 10 minutes per station.
  • Adjust sprinklers to prevent overspray and runoff.
  • Repair leaks and broken sprinkler heads.
  • Add 2-3 inches of mulch around trees and plants.
  • Install water-efficient drip irrigation systems.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean outside.
  • Adjust your pressure to between 40 and 60 psi.
  • Don’t leave the hose running while washing your car.
  • Repair any leaks around pool and spa pumps.
  • Repair leaking hose bibs.
  • Install covers on pools and spas. 
 
 
 

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