Septic Systems

• Landscaping Over Septic Systems with Native Plants (HENV-15-W)
Homeowners can improve the unsightly appearance of aboveground septic system components, but they must take care to choose plants that grow well without interfering with septic system operation. This publication describes landscaping with native plants on and around septic systems.

Wastewater Biological Oxygen Demand in Septic Systems (HENV-14-W)
A waste stream's biochemical oxygen demand (or, BOD) is important, because a high BOD number means potential septic system problems for homeowners. This publication describes the environmental impacts of BOD, how it is distributed in septic systems, and remediation strategies for excess BOD.

Septic System Additives (HENV-13-W)
There are many products advertised as essentials for improving or repairing septic systems. This publication examines types of additives and the available scientific data regarding their effectiveness.

Seasonally High Water Tables and Septic Systems
In late winter and spring, seasonally high water tables can reduce a septic system's ability to treat wastewater. This publication explains why these high water tables occur and examines septic system designs used in areas where they occur.

Obtaining a Septic System Permit (HENV-11-W)
Before a new septic system can be installed or repairs can be made to existing systems, Indiana rules require obtaining permits from a homeowner's county health department. This publication describes how homeowners can obtain these permits.

Septic Systems in Flooded and Wet Soil Conditions (HENV-10-W)
During flooding, saturated soils can prevent septic systems from functioning properly and could lead to contaminated drinking water. This publication offers homeowners specific suggestions they can follow before, during, and after flooding to protect their water supply, health, and septic system.

Water Use and Septic System Performance (HENV-9-W)
This publication suggests plumbing and behavioral changes that can reduce water consumption. Such changes can save homeowners money, improve septic system performance, and reduce the risk for hydraulic overload or other kinds of septic system failure.

• Gravel and Gravelless Trench Soil Absorption Fields (HENV 8-W)
In recent years, substitutes for traditional gravel trenches in septic system soil absorption fields have become available. This publication examines the strengths and weaknesses of these new technologies.

• Indiana Soils and Septic Systems (HENV-7-W)
Soil is the most valuable component of an Indiana septic system. This publication describes the soil characteristics that are necessary for effective wastewater treatment.

• Grandfathered Septic Systems: Location and Replacement/Repair (HENV-6-W)
This publication is aimed at owners of older homes or those thinking of buying an older home. It provides suggestions on how to locate an existing septic system and describes current Indiana rules regarding septic system failures.

• Septic Tanks: The Primary Treatment Device of Your Septic System (HENV-5-W)
Septic tanks play an essential role in treating wastewater in areas without municipal sewage treatment, but tanks are just one part of the septic system. This publication discusses the purpose and types of septic tanks, and how to maintain them.

• Septic System Distribution Boxes: Importance of Equal Distribution in Trenches (HENV-4-W)
Indiana’s septic systems frequently rely on distribution boxes to evenly distribute wastewater effluent to soil absorption field trenches. This publication explains how these distribution boxes work and how they can be maintained to avoid costly repairs.

• Turfgrass Color: Indicator of Septic System Performance (HENV-3-W)
Homeowners often notice color differences in the turfgrass over their septic system soil absorption fields. This publication examines how those color differences can be an early sign that troubles are about to occur.

• Increasing the Longevity of Your Septic System (HENV-2-W)
Many new homeowners do not expect to pay several thousand dollars to repair failing septic systems; however, many homeowners are faced with this dilemma due to improper septic system maintenance. This publication explains how a septic system functions and provides maintenance instructions in order to increase a system’s lifespan.

Septic System Failure (HENV-1- W)
This publication discusses various types of septic system failure, their associated environmental impacts, and common causes of failure.

It is the policy of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, David C. Petritz, Director, that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to the programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. This material may be available in alternative formats.