Septic systems survey shows positive impacts

Results from informal follow up surveys shows participant are adopting positive changes to protect and maintain their onsite waste water treatment systems.

With more than 1.2 million onsite wastewater treatment systems, also known as septic systems, in use by homes and businesses throughout Michigan, the estimated 10 percent failure rate can still have a major impact on the environment, people’s health and cost to repair and replace a malfunctioning system.

For a number of years, Michigan State University has partnered with local Health Departments to offer septic system use and maintenance workshops. These workshops give participants important information on how the system is designed, how it operates, preventative maintenance, signs of potential trouble and steps to take if a problem occurs.

Workshop evaluations over the years have shown a high percentage of participants have learned new information about their system. A lesser percentage, usually around 50 percent to 60 percent indicate that they plan to make changes.

Over the past two years, Michigan State University Extension has completed six to 12 month follow up surveys to determine if participants actually made changes and what those changes were. Survey Monkey questionnaires were sent to all participants in 2015 (for 2014 programs) and again in 2016 (for 2015 programs). 27 percent and 33 percent of participants responded to the 2014 and 2015 surveys, respectively.

Survey results showed that a higher percentage of participants actually made changes in their use and maintenance practices than planned to make changes. It also showed that the in person programs seemed to have more impact on fostering positive changes than did the webinar.

Change

2014

2015 in person

2015 webinar

Knowledge gains

98%

100%

100%

Planned to make change(s)

52%

56%

N/A

Participants who made changes

76%

74%

61.5%

 Spaced out laundry during week

69%

61%

54%

 Reduced water use

56%

46%

42%

 Reduced garbage disposal use

44%

53.5%

31%

 System checked by professional

44%

39%

15%

 Stopped putting grease, oil, fats in system

44%

39%

27%

Stopped putting “flushable” wipes in system

N/A

21%

19%

Shared information with others

95%

94%

N/A

All of these changes will help to reduce the number of malfunctioning systems in Michigan.

Michigan State University Extension is offering two in person Septic System Use and Maintenance Workshops:

Tuesday, October 11 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. Shelby Township Senior Center 51670 Van Dyke Rd. Shelby Township

Wednesday, October 19 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. Ray Township Senior Center 64255 Wolcott Rd., Ray Township

This workshop will cover how a septic system functions, system use and maintenance, best management techniques to extend the system’s life, water conservation, how to detect septic failures and alternative systems. Additional septic system handouts will be available for participants.

To register for either of these free workshops, visit events.anr.msu.edu/septictank.

For more information about the program or for registration assistance, call 586-469-6440. Registration is strongly encouraged as seating is limited.

Also visit MSUE’s septic system education website for more information on this topic.

Michigan State University Extension will be offering a statewide webinar, “Septic Systems: Insight into Your Onsite System”. Look for program details in a future article. 

Related Events

Related Articles