The Environmental Risks of a Faulty Septic Tank

y in large, you really don’t have anything to worry about when you own a septic tank – at least insofar as its impact on water quality. If anything, septic tanks are even more environmentally friendly than public sewage systems – that may use harsh chemicals to treat wastewater.

However, when you are dealing with an improperly installed or failing system – that’s when things can become hazardous. Here are some of the ways your home could be impacted. 

Water quality

When home septic tanks fail – they can discharge directly into groundwater or surface water before the waste is treated. If you live close to a body of water – it may enter the ecosystem there as well. Both can have a major impact on the quality of the water as well as the aquatic ecosystems that help support microbial, plant and animal life. 

Pathogens and excess nutrients

When wastewater flows into certain areas, it can create harmful imbalances in pathogens and cause the formation of excess nutrients that can harm the surrounding area. The most common manifestations here are with pathogens and excess nitrogen.

Pathogens can cause illnesses and pose huge threats in recreational swimming areas as well as posing a real hazard to humans and pets. Freshwater bodies of water are highly susceptible to phosphorus pollution. 

Excess nitrogen can also lead to an overgrowth of algae and cyanobacteria – and do so quickly. This leads to excess algae that can consume oxygen and block sunlight to underwater plants. Even when the algae dies, the oxygen in the water can be consumed, making certain aquatic ecosystems uninhabitable for fish and other organisms. 

Your health

Contaminants from faulty septic tanks can contaminate drinking water and spread serious disease – especially if the tank is located near a water well. Septic systems are filled with bacteria, viruses and protozoa – which causes illnesses such as typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera. 

Infants are especially at risk. Wastewater is packed full of nitrogen that comes from urine, food and feces. When consumed – they can cause blue baby syndrome – which reduces the ability of a baby’s blood to carry oxygen and if it’s not treated in time – can kill the child. 

This blog isn’t to scare you. Septic systems are usually rock-solid and ultra reliable. But if not properly maintained and inspected – you run a far greater risk of failure. If you have questions or are interested in a maintenance plan, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then -good luck.