Protecting streams, rivers and lakes with safe septic systems
Lorain County Public Health (LCPH) protects the health of people. Did you know that LCPH’s programs also protect the health of the environment? The health of the environment affects the health of us all.
LCPH has an entire division of staff dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy environment. LCPH inspects landfills where your household trash goes. They also inspect landfills where construction and demolition trash goes, compost facilities, scrap tire piles and open dumping sites. LCPH conducts these inspections because waste areas can spread germs to the water supply.
Water quality is a critical measure of environmental health. One key way to protect water quality is by maintaining home sewage treatment systems. A home sewage treatment system is also known as a septic system. If a house isn’t connected to a city sewer line, it has a septic system to manage waste. If a septic system isn’t working properly, it can leak germs and pollution to nearby creeks, rivers, and lakes - that is bad for the environment and it can make people sick.
There are over 20,000 septic systems in Lorain County. LCPH estimates that about half of them were installed before 1970 - over 50 years ago! In order to address the problem of septic systems polluting local waterways, the state recently mandated the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) program. The O&M program will help LCPH keep track of Lorain County’s septic systems to prevent water pollution.
The O&M program will help make sure that Lorain County’s septic systems are working properly. The ultimate goal is to protect Lorain County’s waterways from germs and other pollution leaked from septic systems. The program requires LCPH to enroll every septic system in the county, and homeowners will renew their permit every three years. Throughout the process, LCPH will guide homeowners on any needed repairs, upgrades, or replacements. LCPH will also provide education to homeowners with recommendations to help maintain and extend their system's life span. Any septic system can continue operation (regardless of age) as long as it works properly.
If you have a septic system, make sure that LCPH has correct information about your septic system - visit LorainCountyHealth.com/sewage to check. You can also choose paperless communications and online billing on that website. Otherwise, homeowners can wait until December. LCPH will mail or email information to every house that has a septic system.
If you do not have a septic system, you can protect Lorain County’s water quality in other ways:
- Avoid littering, since litter often ends up in our waterways. Better yet, organize a litter cleanup day in your community.
- Use fertilizers sparingly, or not at all. Fertilizer often runs off into waterways.
- Get rid of harmful materials that could contaminate groundwater. The Lorain County Collection Center, 540 South Abbe Road in Elyria, accepts pesticides, leftover paint and paint thinner, and other household hazardous waste.
Recipe: Infused drinking water
Celebrate water by adding extra flavor. Mix the following ingredient combinations with water to make your own infused drink:
- Watermelon and mint
- Cucumber and lime
- Orange and lemon
- Strawberry and blueberry