Title 5 Septic Systems

Septic systems can be called by several different names, including on-site wastewater treatment systems, individual sewage disposal systems and private sewage systems. These on-site wastewater disposal systems provide an effective means of treating household sewage. However, older, poorly designed systems, inadequate maintenance and many other conditions can affect the performance of such systems. Ineffective treatment of sewage can threaten the environment by polluting local wetlands and groundwater supplies; moreover, failing systems can harm public health by exposing residents to harmful microorganisms carried in wastewater.

Proper system maintenance is essential. It is recommended that the average household septic system be inspected and pumped at least every three years by a septic system professional. Septic pumpers are licensed under the Board of Health. Please call the office for an up-to-date list of licensed pumpers. Septic system plans and information can be requested by emailing us at health@mansfieldma.com.

  1. Septic System General Info
  2. Caring for your Septic System
  3. Inspectors and System Failure
  4. Items Not to Flush

What is a septic system? Septic systems are used to treat and dispose of small volumes of wastewater onsite, usually from houses and businesses located in suburban and rural locations not served by a centralized public sewer system. Septic systems treat wastewater from household plumbing fixtures (toilet, shower, laundry, etc.) through both natural and technological processes.

Septic systems are also called:

  • onsite wastewater treatment systems,
  • decentralized wastewater treatment systems,
  • cluster systems,
  • package plants,
  • on-lot systems,
  • individual sewage disposal systems, and
  • private sewage systems.

The various types of decentralized wastewater treatment, if properly executed, can protect public health, preserve valuable water resources, and maintain economic vitality in a community. They are a cost-effective and long-term option for treating wastewater, particularly in less densely populated areas.

One in five U.S. homes have septic systems. Yours may be one of them. If your septic system is not properly maintained you may be risking your family’s health, hurting the environment, and flushing thousands of dollars down the drain. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property value, and potentially can pose a costly legal liability.

Proper maintenance keeps you and your neighbors healthy! Household wastewater contains disease causing bacteria and viruses and high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. If a septic system is well-maintained and working properly, it will remove most of these pollutants. Insufficiently treated sewage from septic systems can cause groundwater contamination, which can spread disease in humans and animals. Improperly treated sewage poses the risk of contaminating nearby surface waters threatening swimmers with various infectious diseases, from eye and ear infections to acute gastrointestinal illness and hepatitis.

It also protects the environment! More than four billion gallons of wastewater are dispersed below the ground’s surface every day. Ground water contaminated by poorly or untreated household wastewater poses dangers to drinking water and to the environment. Malfunctioning septic systems release bacteria, viruses, and chemicals toxic to local waterways. When these pollutants are released into the ground, they eventually enter streams, rivers, lakes, and more, harming local ecosystems by killing native plants, fish, and shellfish. Learn more about how septic systems can help support greener, more sustainable communities.


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