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Commentary: Owning a septic tank is a lot like owning a car

Editor's note: The following information was provided by the Todd County Planning and Zoning Department.

If you happen to live in a town or city with a municipal sewer system, the treatment of what goes down your sink or toilet probably isn't a great concern to you. If your toilets work and your tub drains, life is good. Paying your utility bill is likely the only worry you have relating to sewage treatment.

If you live in a more rural area, you likely depend on a septic tank and drainfield to take care of your wastewater. Owning your own sewer treatment system requires a basic knowledge of how your system works as well as how to maintain it for long, trouble free operation. Owning a sewer treatment system is a lot like owning a car:

• They are expensive. Like a car, a septic tank and drainfield can be quite costly. System costs can range from $6000 to 15,000 for a single family home.

• They should never abused. Just as we try not to overwork or abuse our automobiles, the same should hold true with a septic system. Systems are designed to treat standard toilet and wash water wastes. Make every effort to keep other waste products from entering the system.

• They should receive regular maintenance. Everyone knows that if we expect our cars to last a long time, we must change the oil at regular intervals. The same holds true when it comes to having your septic tank pumped and cleaned. Septic tanks are designed to settle solids to the the bottom, oils and grease to the top and relatively clear water in the middle. It is this clear water that is discharged to the drainfield. If regular pumping and cleaning is not done, the solids, oils and grease can build up in the tank and enter the drainfield. Allowing this to happen shortens the life of your septic system or worse, destroy it.

The best insurance for promoting a long life for your septic system is to have it pumped and cleaned by a septic professional at least once every three years.

The cost for this service definitely outweighs the cost of installing a new system. Regular maintenance of your septic system, just like your car, will save you money (as well as headaches) in the long run.

For more information concerning septic systems and how to maintain them, please go to our website or contact us directly at 320-732-4420.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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