Monthly Archives: September 2017

Ozarks Water Watch at Beaver Lake!


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.

We will continue our projects in the Beaver Lake Watershed focusing on monitoring lakes through our lakesmart volunteer monitoring program and monitoring streams through our streamsmart volunteer monitoring program.  You will also find us supporting and leading partner events including the West Fork Cleanup, War Eagle Appreciation Day, Secchi Day on Beaver Lake and more!

You can now reach us our website at and on facebook at


SepticSmart Week 2017 Wrap Up

Ten Ways to be a Good Septic Owner

Thank you for participating in Septic Smart Week 2017!  Now that you know more about Septic Systems, here are 10 ways you can be a good septic owner.

Click here to download your own checklist to keep your septic system in good working order.


Homebuyer’s Guide to Septic Systems Part 3 – SepticSmart Week 2017

Part 3:  Corrective Maintenance

How do I know if my septic system is not working properly? What do I do?

There are a few signs of a septic system malfunction. If you discover any of these warning signs, call a septic system service provider immediately. One call could save you thousands of dollars!

  • Wastewater backing up or gurgling into household drains.
  • A strong odor around the septic tank or drainfield.
  • Bright green, spongy grass appearing on the drainfield.
  • With proper care and maintenance, your septic system will serve your home for years to come.

That’s why it’s important for you to do your part and be SepticSmart!


It’s important to address any problems concerning your septic system as early as possible.  To get help with your septic system.  Your county environmental health specialist can help you.

  • 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

You can also visit the Arkansas Department of Health Onsite Wastewater website.


Homebuyer’s Guide to Septic Systems Part 2 – SepticSmart Week 2017

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 properly maintained!

  • 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.


Beaver LakeSmart Video – Managing Septic Systems

Visit the Ozarks Water Watch Beaver LakeSmart homeowners education chapter on Septic Systems

Click here to visit the Arkansas Department of Health Onsite Wastewater Website for more information about owning and maintaining your septic system on your Arkansas property.










Homebuyer’s Guide to Septic Systems Part 1 – SepticSmart Week 2017

Part 1: Understanding your septic 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.

For additional information, contact your local health department, real estate agent or visit

You can also visit our section on septic system education at


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?


  1. All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into a septic tank.
  2. 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 top (scum).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Our next blog, released on September 20 will focus on inspecting and maintaining your septic system.  Click here to download the entire homeowners guide to septic systems