How do I take care of my septic system?
Septic systems are one of the biggest issues in the Santa Monica Mountains. Recent legislation (AB885) requires that standards be established for the maintenance and function of on-site private sewage disposal systems like septic tanks. Water conservation and careful use can prevent many problems. Septic systems are usually designed to last for 20-30 years, while most homes are expected to last for over 100 years. Like all other parts of the house, routine maintenance can really make a difference. Learn where your tank is, where the leach field or seepage pit is located. Tanks need to be pumped only every 3-5 years if they are working well. Avoid using bleach and anti-bacterial soaps, as these can kill off the beneficial microbes and bacteria that keep the septic tank working efficiently. Install a filter between the tank and the leach field to reduce the amount of solids leaving the tank that could clog the field and reduce percolation. Avoid putting grease and hair into the system. Avoid heavy use all at one time (taking a shower, doing the laundry and using the dishwasher at the same time!). Avoid using garbage disposals as they add a heavy dose of solids to the tank. Most of all, be sure that no leaky faucets or toilet tanks overflow the system!
What is a graywater system and how does it work?
A graywater system is similar to a septic system, in that it takes used water from sinks (not the kitchen sink), showers and washing machines and disposes of it underground. If the water daylights (comes out of a pipe onto the surface) it is a real health danger! Graywater systems can be a great way to irrigate fruit trees or ornamental plants, or supply a pond. By practicing water conservation, it is possible to recycle much of this water on a daily basis, and thus save the septic system for blackwater effluent from toilets and the kitchen sink.
Is the water in Topanga Creek polluted?
A study done from 1999-2001 of 15 locations in the Topanga Creek Watershed found that most locations were not polluted. However, "hot spots" for high fecal bacteria counts were noted at the Hillside Drive, Entrado Drive, and Falls Drive sampling spots. The Topanga Creek Report Card provides a summary of all the results, including a map showing the sampling locations.