We are excited to announce our new name: Ozarks Water Watch at Beaver Lake!
Since 2012, Ozarks Water Watch has maintained a full time office in Rogers, Arkansas, staffed by regional projects coordinator, Angela Danovi, while carrying out programs through various partners and various names. Now, to unify our organization across the Upper White River Basin in Arkansas and Missouri and to help promote our ongoing work in the Beaver Lake Watershed, we have brought our website name, social media, and project work home to Ozarks Water Watch at Beaver Lake!
Ozarks Water Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving the water quality of the Upper White River Watershed. The watershed includes 4 major impoundments, three major rivers and numerous smaller lakes and streams crisscrossing over 14,000 square miles in 19 counties in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Beaver Lake is the first of four major impoundments of the Upper White River Basin and serves as the drinking water source for over 400,000 people in Northwest Arkansas. The work we do in the Beaver Lake Watershed helps protect water quality for everyone in the watershed and downstream of Beaver Dam.
Part 2: Inspecting and Maintaining your Septic System
How can I be sure that my septic system is working correctly?
Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will make, so you want to avoid any
surprises after you purchase the home. Just like your furnace, the septic system is expensive
to repair or replace so you want it to be in good condition when you buy the home. It’s a good idea to have the system inspected by a septic system service provider before you purchase a home. Inspections may be required by your local or state government or by your mortgage lender. Inspections are required in unincorporated areas of Washington County. Inspection results
can help you decide if the home is right for you.
If you have not already done so, you will want to determine if your house is on a septic system. We talk about ways to determine if your home is on a septic system in Part 1. In addition you can verify your septic system location on your property in Arkansas by calling your county health department. I
County Health Departments in Northwest Arkansas
Benton County Health Unit- Rogers at 479-986-1358
Washington County Health Unit – Fayetteville at 479-521-8181
Madison County Health Unit – Huntsville at 479-738-2612
Carroll County Health Unit – Berryville at 870-423-2923
What should happen during a septic system inspection?
The inspector will check for the following:
Pumping and maintenance records;
The age of the septic system;
Sludge levels and scum thickness in the tank;
Signs of leakage, such as low water levels in the tank;
Signs of backup, such as staining in the tank above the outlet pipe;
Integrity of the tank, inlet, and outlet pipes;
The drainfield, for signs of system failure like standing water;
The distribution box, to make sure drain lines are receiving equal flow; and
Available records, to ensure the system complies with local regulations regarding function and location
What can I do to help maintain my system every day?
A typical septic system should be inspected every three to five years by a septic system service provider. The tank should be pumped as recommended by the service provider or as required by your town, county, or state. Generally, you can plan to have the tank pumped approximately every three to five years. Just like changing the oil in your car, preventive septic system maintenance will extend the life of your system for a small cost compared to the cost of replacing the system.
The average lifespan of a septic system is 15 to 40 years, but it can last longer if properlymaintained!
Think at the sink. Consider what you put into your toilet and sink and the impact it may
have on your system. Many common household items can either clog your system or kill the
microbes that treat the wastewater.
“Cloggers” include diapers, baby wipes, cat litter, cigarettes, coffee grounds, grease,
and feminine hygiene products.
“Killers” include household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, paint, and
high amounts of anti-bacterial soaps and detergents.
Don’t strain your drain.
The less water you use, the less your septic system has to work. Stagger the use of appliances, use high efficiency plumbing fixtures, and repair any leaks in your home.
Shield your field.
Keep your car and anything heavier than your lawnmower off your drainfield.
Eliminate or limit the use of a garbage disposal. This will significantly reduce the amount of
fats, grease, and solids that enter your septic system and could clog your drainfield.
Plant trees away from the drainfield since tree roots can clog the field and cause the system to fail.
Keep excess water from irrigation, significant rainfall, or drains off the drainfield.
What are the costs associated with the maintenance of a septic system?
Your home’s septic system should be inspected every three to five years as part of its routine
maintenance and pumped as necessary depending on the results of the inspection. The maintenance service typically costs between $250 to $500, based on nationwide industry estimates. Maintenance costs are much more affordable compared to the expense of repairing or replacing a septic system which can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Contact a local septic system service provider who can provide a cost estimate specific to your area and needs. They can also provide you with more accurate information on how frequently to service and pump out your system.
Are you thinking about purchasing a new home? If so, do you know where your wastewater goes or how it is treated? If not, this is a question you will want to be able to answer. To help guide you in better understanding if you are on a septic system and how to manage that septic system, I am using this guide found on the EPA Septic Smart Website to write a blog and share this information with you.
The New Homeowners Guide to Septic Systems provides information homebuyers need to know before purchasing a home with a septic system (also known as an onsite wastewater system), how a septic system works, and the importance of having it inspected prior to purchasing a home. In addition, this guide provides information on everyday, preventative, and corrective maintenance for when you are living in your new home.
You can also visit our section on septic system education at https://owwbeaverlake.org/education/septic-system-management/
Does my new home have a septic system? How do I find it?
You most likely have a septic system if:
You are on well water;
The water line coming into your house does not have a meter;
Your neighbors have a septic system; or,
You live in a rural area.
You can find your septic system by:
Looking at the “as built” drawing for your home’s septic system, which you can request
from your local (e.g., town, county, or state) health department’s records;
Checking your yard for inspection caps, lids, or manhole covers;
Working with a septic system service provider, who can help locate the system; and,
Asking the seller or realtor.
How does a septic system work?
All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
The septic tank is a buried, water-tight container. Its job is to hold the wastewater long
enough for solids to settle to the bottom (sludge) while the fats, oil and grease float to the
For conventional septic systems, liquid wastewater exits the tank and is spread evenly
throughout the drainfield, usually through a distribution box. Systems with more advanced treatment may have an additional component between the septic tank and drainfield.
Once in the drainfield, the wastewater percolates into the soil, which reclaims the water for future reuse by naturally removing harmful bacteria, viruses, and some nutrients. This process may vary based on the site conditions of your property (e.g., soil type, proximity to water). A septic system service provider and your septic system’s “as built” drawings will be able to tell you what type of system is on the property.