Septic System Education Program

What Is a Septic System?

It is an on-site sewage management system that includes an underground tank and drainfield. Approximately 25% of households in Athens-Clarke County use one.

Septic systems differ from sewer systems. Sewer systems pipe wastewater directly to treatment plants managed by the Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department.

4 Ways You Can Protect Your Septic System 

1. Know Your System

  • How many gallons does it hold?
  • Where are the tank and drainfield located?
  • How old is yours?
  • When was it last inspected and/or pumped?

If you don't know the answer to the first three questions, contact the Clarke County Health Department's Environmental Health Section at 706-583-2658.

You or the homeowner should know the answer to the last question. If not, it's probably time to contact a certified plumber or septic tank service.

2. Use Water Wisely

  • Don’t overload the system - Using more water than the soil can absorb leads to failure.
  • Conserve water - Fix leaks and drips. Replace old fixtures with new “low flow” types. Look for WaterSense labeled products.
  • Reduce the flow through the tank - This allows more time for solids to settle out.
  • Limit water use during rain - The drainfield is saturated, reducing the absorption rate.

3. Toilets & Sinks Are Not Trash Cans

Septic systems treat human waste and wastewater from toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, etc.... not garbage.

  • Additives and enzymes - These do not prevent the need for recommended maintenance and pumping schedules.
  • Pee, Poop & (Toilet) Paper - These three ‘P’s are all that should go down the toilet.
  • Garbage disposals - Their use is not recommended, as they can double the amount of solids in wastewater.

4. Regular & Preventative Maintenance is the Key

  • Check every 3 - 5 years* - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends septic systems be inspected and pumped regularly.
  • Failure is not an option - Do not wait for the system to fail before pumping. By then it is usually too late and repairs are more costly.
  • Certified professional - Hire only certified professionals to inspect, pump, and repair your septic system.

* - Depending on size, number in household, and water use

Further Resources
Athens-Clarke County Septic System Education

  • General information about septic system education
  • Referral to agencies that deal with septic system issues
  • Waterway testing

 Clarke County Health Department Environmental Health Section

189 Paradise Boulevard
Athens, GA 30607
Fax: 706-583-2668

  • Handles septic system:
    • Subdivision reviews
    • Commercial & residential plan reviews
    • Site evaluations
    • Complaint investigations of repairs
    • Existing system evaluations
    • Permits for system construction
    • Septic system installation inspections