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Septic System
Checkup Manual

News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:

December 12, 2000


Sally Spadaro 222-4700 ext. 2426
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418


PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces the publication of Septic System Checkup, an inclusive guide to inspecting and maintaining septic systems. The handbook, available to the public, is written for both lay people and professionals in the field. "Never before has the subject of septic system inspection protocol been covered so fully," said George Loomis of the University of Rhode Islandís Onsite Wastewater Training Center.

About 150,000 Rhode Island households, or one-third of the state's population, use some form of septic system for sewage disposal. Those systems discharge some seven billion gallons of wastewater into the ground each year. When used properly, septic systems function very well. If mismanaged or ignored, they can cause a number of serious problems such as disease or water pollution. Inspection and maintenance are key to ensuring properly function systems.

Septic System Checkup is an easy-to-understand, detailed protocol for inspection and maintenance, useful to homeowners and buyers, as well as to professionals who maintain septic systems. The handbook provides newly developed standards for septic system inspection and maintenance. It describes two types of inspection: a maintenance inspection to determine the need for pumping and minor repairs, and a functional inspection for use during property transfers. It includes detailed instructions for locating septic system components, diagnosing in-home plumbing problems, flow testing and dye tracing, and scheduling inspections. Several Rhode Island communities, including New Shoreham, North Kingstown and Glocester, currently use Septic System Checkup as their inspection standard. The University of Rhode Island offers a training course for professionals interested in becoming certified in the inspection procedures.

Written by James Riordan, principal environmental scientist for DEM's Office of Water Resources, with layout and illustrations by Information Specialist Anne Jett of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the handbook was developed in conjunction with DEM's Septic System Maintenance Policy Forum. The policy forum, which works to overcome obstacles to better management of septic systems, is a roundtable group comprising approximately 100 representatives from federal state and local government, private associations, businesses and private citizens.

The handbook is available free on-line by clicking here at no charge. Individual spiral-bound copies of Septic System Checkup may be purchased for $10 with inspection report forms or $7 for the manual without forms from DEM's Office of Technical and Customer Assistance at 222-6822. For additional information about septic inspection procedures, contact Jim Riordan at 222-4700 ext. 4421.


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