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
Why Conserve Water?
Why Conserve Water? - Videos Videos
The video provides information on the importance of water conservation and offers tips on reducing your water usage. 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
There are steps that you can take to help prevent septic waste from backing up into your home during flooding. Photo: George Hurd, Penn State Extension
Protecting Your Septic System From Flooding - Articles Articles
Although your septic system may work well during dry weather, too much water from flooding or heavy rains can cause problems. More
Water Conservation for Communities
Water Conservation for Communities - Guides and Publications Guides and Publications

Water Conservation for Communities

Bryan Swistock

28

$4.00
Help your community learn how to conserve water. 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
Coliform Bacteria
Coliform Bacteria - Articles Articles

Coliform Bacteria

Bryan Swistock, William Sharpe, Ph.D.

This article describes what coliform bacteria are, where they come from and how to remove them from drinking water. More
Helping Realtors Understand On-Lot Wastewater Inspections
Helping Realtors Understand On-Lot Wastewater Inspections - Articles Articles
As part of the “home inspection” process, realtors need to understand who should conduct on-lot disposal system inspections and what outcomes to expect. 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
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
Photo: Amy Galford
Managing On-lot Septic Systems - Articles Articles
On-lot septic systems typically consist of a treatment tank and a soil absorption area which is commonly called a leach field or drainfield. 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
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 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
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
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
A Lexicon for Alternate On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems
A Lexicon for Alternate On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems - Articles Articles
Examples of alternate systems include: Steep Slope Elevated Sand Mounds, Drip Disposal, Chamber Systems, and Peat Filters. More
Aerobic Treatment Units Aerobic Treatment Units - Articles

Aerobic Treatment Units

Albert Jarrett, Ph.D.

Aerobic treatment units, also called activated sludge tanks, are a common method of biological treatment used in municipal wastewater treatment facilities. More
What is sewage sludge and what can be done with it?
What is sewage sludge and what can be done with it? - Articles 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
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
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
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
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
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