'Don't overload the commode'

Health District reminds residents to take care of septic systems

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Gov. Butch Otter recently declared Sept. 21-25 Idaho SepticSmart Week, and Panhandle Health District is reminding North Idaho homeowners to prevent septic-related pollution and disease.

Last year, Panhandle Health District permitted 763 septic systems, more than 25 percent of all septic permits in Idaho.

"Our community is home to some of Idaho's most pristine lakes, rivers and aquifers, but improperly maintained septic systems can negatively impact these resources that we all enjoy," said Erik Ketner, the health district's environmental health manager.

Septic system owners are responsible for ensuring proper function and safety of their systems, including appropriate use, routine inspections by certified professionals, and getting needed repairs done quickly.

"Not only is proper maintenance a legal requirement of each septic system owner, but it also just makes sense from a property investment standpoint," Ketner said. "Panhandle Health District is always willing to consult with system owners and provide them with information on proper care of their system."

Here are some important (and catchy!) reminders for septic system owners in North Idaho:

* Think at the sink - Pouring oil, grease and/or chemicals down the drain can clog a system's pipes and drain field.

* Don't overload the commode - Only put things in the toilet that belong there.

* Don't strain your drain - Be water efficient and spread out water use.

* Shield your field - Remind guests not to park or drive on a system's drain field where the weight could cause damage.

* Protect it and inspect it - Routine inspections and pumping of a system can catch problems before the system fails, protecting your property's value and keeping your family healthy. PHD recommends scheduling an inspection every 3-5 years.

For more information and resources about septic permitting and maintenance, visit the health district's website, http://panhandlehealthdistrict.org/environmental-health/septic, or call and speak with an environmental health specialist at (208) 415-5220.

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