Homeowners… Are Septic Tanks Bad For Environment?

Are Septic Tanks Bad For Environment? It’s About The Water

If septic tanks are managed properly, instead of being damaging to our environment, is actually one of the primary protectors of our lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers!

Let us talk about a few fast facts on water and how Septic Tanks can help the environment:

  • Humans are comprised of roughly 60% water.
  • Around 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water.
  • About 97% of the earth’s water is found in the oceans and is too salty for use in agriculture, or for human consumption.
  • Only approximately 3% of the earth’s water is fresh, making it suitable for drinking, bathing, washing, and irrigating food crops.
  • The Indiana State Health Department calculates the average household to consume 150 gallons of water per day per bedroom.
  • As a general rule, the average human can only survive 3 days without water.

As you can see, the human race needs to take precautions with our most precious commodity…clean water.

Let’s think about your home with an eye towards water…

There is, first of all, natural water.

1.) Rain and snow.
These fall from above, and once they land, they flow from the surfaces on which they land, seeking the lowest point, always running downhill.

2.) Creeks, lakes, rivers, and ponds.

These are fed by the rain and snow runoff.

These kinds of natural water are referred to as “Surface Water”.

Cities and towns devote a lot of planning and resources to the diversion, capture and retention, and eventual release of these “Surface Waters”.

Our streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds need to be protected from harmful chemicals and pollutants that can be accumulated when natural waters pass through an environment inhabited by man.

The second type of natural water to consider is known as “Subsurface Water”.

These include water that is drained from the surface through drainage networks, as well as residual water tables from which our well water is drawn. Many areas of the earth have underground lakes and streams that remain hidden from our sight. In Wabash County, there is an underground river formation called Teays valley. This huge aquifer extends all the way across Indiana, from Ohio to Illinois, eventually draining into the Mississippi aquifer about 40 miles south of Springfield, Ill.

Our homes are microcosms of this worldwide water management picture.

Each home receives rainfall, which needs to be properly diverted. Rainfall from the roofs needs to be channeled into the piping to carry it to either a surface drainage way or a subsurface drainage network.

Rainwater that falls on our yards and fields needs to be managed properly so that it waters our landscapes but does not erode the soils, or flood our Septic Systems. At the same time, care needs to be taken so this water is not unduly contaminated as it returns to our streams, lakes, and reservoirs. Consideration must be given during construction projects so that both surface and subsurface waters are diverted from foundations, basements, and all components of your Septic System.

Some homes are situated in areas that have a high residual water table. This results in the need for a drainage network around your basement. Often these drainage pipes will empty into a sump pit in the basement. A pump will automatically activate when the pit is full, emptying the water into a pipe that carries the water out either to the surface of the ground or into a subsurface drainage network that eventually empties into a stream or lake.

Our homes generate two types of water…drainage water, and contaminated water.

These two are managed by two separate systems and must be kept separate throughout their lifespans so that both systems can function properly.

A glance at the two lists may look something like this:

Drainage water
Downspouts and gutters
Sump pump
Floor drains in the garage.
Water softener
Yard drainage

Contaminated Water/Grey Water

Washing machine
Kitchen sinks
Bathroom sinks
Bathtubs and showers
Laundry sinks

In the very simplest of terms, if water from the contaminated sources gets into the drainage water system, we are sending contaminated water and pollutants into our streams, lakes, and ponds.

Conversely, if water from any of the drainage system components gets into the contaminated water system, (Septic System), it will cause catastrophic failure of the Septic System!

Remember these things:

  • The most ancient cleaning solution known to man…is water!


  • The water in your septic tank started out as clean water, drawn from the 3% of fresh water in the world. You used it to clean your body, clean your clothes, clean your house, drink and cook with. Once it had performed all these tasks, you sent it down the drain, laden with all the filth from your home. It landed with an unceremonious splash in the septic tank, ready to begin the slow process of being cleansed from all its filth and released back into nature to begin the cycle again.

As you can see, the septic tank, if managed properly, instead of being damaging to our environment, is actually one of the primary protectors of our water lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, and our overall environment!