Is your house one of the 60,000 properties in the North West with a private sewage treatment system or septic tank? There are lots of (simple) ways you can help protect our rivers and seas in the spirit of Word Rivers Day!
Water samples taken by the Environment Agency and the Rivers Trust highlight that certain waterways are failing the safe limits for faecal bacteria found in the water, sometimes by as much as 10 times over the limit, due to poorly maintained septic tanks.
Call of Nature is a region-wide campaign raising awareness of the pollution risks that badly maintained septic tanks, cesspits and package sewage treatment plants can cause to the North West’s rivers and waterways. The campaign advises how everyone can take action to ensure private systems are well maintained in order to protect their local environment.
The North West region has the highest number of private sewerage systems in the UK; with 60,000 properties not connected to the public sewer network. Considering the average septic tank for a household of four holds 2720 litres of wastewater, the combined volume of wastewater in the regions septic tanks would fill the equivalent of 65 Olympic size swimming pools!
A well maintained septic tank does not cause any problems; they work like miniature sewage treatment systems, which store and treat wastewater from households. However, when they are not serviced properly, there can be a number of negative consequences for rivers, seas and wildlife.
Household wastewater is teeming with bacteria, viruses and chemicals that can pass into and contaminate rivers, streams and seas if the system is faulty. Pollutants like these can harm wildlife; killing native plants, fish and shellfish. The pollutants also increase the chance of illnesses such as eye and ear infections for people using the water, from paddlers to water sports users.
Private sewage treatment systems need to be repaired or replaced if they are not in good working order by an accredited service engineer. Signs that it needs repairing or replacing will include; leaks, cracks in tank walls or pipes, blocked pipes, pools of water around the drainage point, sewage smells, a failed motor, a failed pump or a failed electrical supply.
An online toolkit is available at www.callofnature.info