Private Septic Systems

Information on wastewater management of private septic systems, including on-lot wastewater systems health, water conservation, filtration and drip irrigation. Tips on using dyes and tracers to confirm septic system failures and funding for repairs.

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Flooding around your home and on the farm could be leading to issues you need to address. Image Credit: Jennifer Fetter
After the Flood – Recovery Considerations for Rural Pennsylvanians - Articles Articles

After the Flood – Recovery Considerations for Rural Pennsylvanians

Jennifer R Fetter, Leon Ressler, Andy Yencha

Parts of Pennsylvania were drenched with heavy rains and flooded streams recently. In addition to drying out wet basements, there are few important things that rural Pennsylvanian’s might want to pay special attention to. More
Onlot Septic: Proper Care, Maintenance and Alternatives
Onlot Septic: Proper Care, Maintenance and Alternatives - Webinars Webinars
Free
This webinar describes basic septic system functions, components, reasons for failures, and steps to prevent failures. More
Sanitary well caps are just one way to protect your drinking water. Photo credit: Bryan Swistock
Home Water and Septic Workshop - Workshops Workshops

Home Water and Septic Workshop

Multiple Options Available

Free
Understand your drinking water supply and septic systems. Learn how to protect, test, and treat water from wells and springs, and how to maintain and inspect your septic system. More
What is sewage sludge and what can be done with it? What is sewage sludge and what can be done with it? - Articles
In this document, “sewage sludge” will refer to wastewater treatment solids generally, and “biosolids” will refer specifically to material that is suitable for land application. More
Homeowners should make a map showing the location of the components on their on-lot septic system. Photo: G. Hurd, Penn State Extension
Managing Your On-Lot Septic System - Articles Articles
About 25 percent of all housing units in Pennsylvania use on-lot septic systems for the treatment and disposal of household wastewater. More
Keeping On-lot Wastewater Systems Healthy Keeping On-lot Wastewater Systems Healthy - Articles
Education and guidance for homeowners with on-lot wastewater disposal systems about how to keep their systems healthy. More
Hydraulic Load Test Hydraulic Load Test - Articles

Hydraulic Load Test

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

The Hydraulic Load Test is included as a component of the PSMA On-Lot Wastewater Inspection. More
Newly installed three chamber septic and pump tank (Photo by Amy Galford)
Funding for Private Well and Septic System Repairs - Articles Articles
Major repairs or replacement of septic system and drinking water wells can be costly, but there are sources of financial assistance for homeowners. More
Water Conservation - How Much Water and Money Can You Save?
Water Conservation - How Much Water and Money Can You Save? - Articles Articles
Determine how much water you currently use and the amount of water and money you could save by installing water-conserving devices. More
Use of Dyes and Tracers to Confirm Septic System Failures Use of Dyes and Tracers to Confirm Septic System Failures - Articles
Commercially available dyes and tracers can be used where additional testing is needed to detect or confirm on-lot sewage disposal system malfunctions. More
Septic Tank Pumping Septic Tank Pumping - Articles

Septic Tank Pumping

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

Septic tanks should be inspected and pumped on a regular basis to prevent malfunctions. More
Site Evaluation for On-lot Sewage Systems Site Evaluation for On-lot Sewage Systems - Articles
Proper design and operation of an on-lot sewage system hinges on the ability of the soil to absorb and renovate the wastewater flowing from the treatment tank. More
PSMA On-lot Wastewater Treatment Inspection vs. A Regulatory Inspection PSMA On-lot Wastewater Treatment Inspection vs. A Regulatory Inspection - Articles
The local Sewage Enforcement Officer focuses on system malfunctions. The PSMA certified septic tank inspector focuses on the overall condition of your system. More
Septic Tank Exit Filters Septic Tank Exit Filters - Articles

Septic Tank Exit Filters

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

Adding a filter to the exit baffle of a septic tank serves as the final opportunity to capture and remove partially settled particles in the wastewater. More
On-Lot Wastewater Systems; The Basics On-Lot Wastewater Systems; The Basics - Articles

On-Lot Wastewater Systems; The Basics

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

The components and function of on-lot wastewater systems and the regulatory system governing their use is described. More
Individual Residential Spray Irrigation Systems (IRSIS) Individual Residential Spray Irrigation Systems (IRSIS) - Articles
The Individual Residential Spray Irrigation System was developed and is designed to treat wastewater for sites with certain restrictive soil conditions. More
On-Lot Filtration and Advanced Treatment Units
On-Lot Filtration and Advanced Treatment Units - Articles Articles
There are many Filtration and Advanced treatment units (FATU's) approved for use in On-Lot Wastewater Systems in Pennsylvania. More
On-lot Wastewater Inspections During Real Estate Transactions On-lot Wastewater Inspections During Real Estate Transactions - Articles
The Pennsylvania Septage Management Association and the National Onsite Wastewater Education and Research Foundation have developed standards and procedures for on-lot wastewater system inspections. More
Geotextile Sand Filter (GSF) On-Lot Systems
Geotextile Sand Filter (GSF) On-Lot Systems - Articles Articles
The Geotextile Sand Filter (GSF) on-lot sewage disposal system can be designed and installed on sites with restrictive soil conditions. More
Figure 1. Cross-section through a Micro-Mound
Drip-Irrigation Micro-Mound - Articles Articles

Drip-Irrigation Micro-Mound

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

The Drip-Irrigation Micro-Mound On-Lot Wastewater System is a method of distributing treatment tank (septic or aerobic) effluent to the natural soil. More
Elevated Sand Mounds for On-lot Wastewater Treatment Elevated Sand Mounds for On-lot Wastewater Treatment - Articles
An elevated sand mound is a constructed mound of sandy fill material placed on top of the 20 to 60 inches of natural or prevailing soil. More
Biomats
Biomats - Articles Articles

Biomats

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

A Biomat is a layer of partially decomposed organic waste often found on the bottom and sides of an absorption area’s trenches. This anaerobic condition prevents decomposition of waste. More
Drip Irrigation On-lot Sewage Disposal System
Drip Irrigation On-lot Sewage Disposal System - Articles Articles
Drip Irrigation is an Alternate On-Lot Sewage Disposal System. More
At-Grade and Shallow At-Grade On-Lot Systems
At-Grade and Shallow At-Grade On-Lot Systems - Articles Articles
At-Grade systems are an approved disposal method for on-lot wastewater in Pennsylvania. More
An Examination of Failing Private Septic Systems in Pennsylvania An Examination of Failing Private Septic Systems in Pennsylvania - Articles
Results of a Penn State study on the condition of septic systems statewide, funded by a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. More
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