Douglas County has a population of around 120,000.Even with six wastewater facilities, we estimate that there are between 25,000 and 30,000 septic tanks in the county.Malfunctioning septic systems can have an adverse impact on water quality.As such, the Authority developed and implemented a comprehensive septage management program designed to ensure the disposal of septage in Douglas County is being completed in accordance with applicable federal, state and local rules, regulations and requirements.The program's goals are to: 1) protect water quality: 2) complement the watershed protection program; 3) educate county residents about the importance of septage management; 4) provide a means to regulate and monitor septage waste haulers; 5) limit septage received to that generated in Douglas County; 6) monitor the volume and strength of septage to ensure that only acceptable wastes are received and assess the impact of septage on the receiving wastewater treatment plants; and 7) track costs associated with septage receiving and treatment.In the early 1990s, the Authority’s program was revised to include mandatory pumping of septic systems in the Dog River basin.
Watershed Management & Protection (Pumping Septic Tanks)
Evaluation of Water Resources (began in 1985)
- Anneewakee Creek Basin – City of Douglasville – most developed basin
- Bear Creek Basin – central portion of Douglas County.
- Dog River Basin – begins in Carroll County – runs through western part of Douglas County with more than 2/3rds of the watershed located in the county.
- Preserve water quality in the county's sources of water supply and because Dog River is the community’s primary drinking water supply, it received first priority.
- WSA has no control of businesses and residents with septic tanks who receive their water from private wells.
- WSA encourages citizens on private wells and in other drainage basins to have their septic tanks pumped every five years.
Developed Water Quality Monitoring Program
- Thirty-five (35) sample sites representative of strategically identified points throughout the county’s three watershed drainage basins.
- Weekly samples were collected year-round without regard to weather conditions.
- Sampling data was used to determine initial water quality.
- Sampling data was also used to track the success of the ongoing watershed protection measures implemented to preserve water quality.
WSA’s Watershed Protection and Management Study
- Completed and adopted in 1990.
- Study identified malfunctioning septic systems as a principle contributor to degraded water quality.
- Other causes include erosion and sedimentation control, overland flow, urban runoff, non-point-source discharges & zoning densities.
Reviewed Douglas County’s Septic Tank Requirements
- Malfunctioning septic tanks determined to be the area of greatest concern.
- Regulations were available - simply a matter of enforcement.
- Percolation tests were not being performed where the tile drain field was to be located.
- In some instances percolation tests were being completed, then the area graded & the septic system installed but subsequently failed.
- The local county health department was authorized by state statute to permit the installation & require repairs of septic systems but not authorized to regulate septic system maintenance.
WSA Developed Septic Tank Pumping Requirements
- WSA’s philosophy is that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
- Local legislation passed which authorizes the Authority to regulate maintenance of septic systems (since 10/1/1991).
- Septic tanks installed in the Dog River Basin must be pumped every 5 years.
- Stipulated in the water service contract that is signed by WSA customers.
- Customers must provide documentation that septic tank was pumped.
- Reminder notices sent to residents impacted by the pumping requirement that their septic tank must be pumped. Four notices sent at 12 months, 60 days, 10 days and three 3 days as indicated below.
- Failure to comply will result in the customer’s water service being shut off.
WSA’s Septic Tank Pumping Procedures
Target Area: Protection of Dog River Drainage Basin
- 12-month letter is sent to customer requesting that septic tank be pumped.
- 60-day letter sent to customer requesting documentation of septic tank pumping.
- 10-day letter sent to customer requesting documentation of septic tank pumping.
- 3-day letter sent advising if documentation of septic tank pumping is not received, water service will be disconnected.
- Service remains disconnected until documentation of pumping is provided.
Once documentation is received, it is entered into the billing system for the specific location.The next pump date is established for the future pumping requirement.
Tracking Septic Tank Pumping by Watershed Drainage Basin
WSA’s Wastewater Operations Division personnel maintain a database that reflects the number of septic tanks that have been pumped and disposed at the Authority’s designated receiving facility.The database is set up to track septic tanks pumped in the various watershed drainage basins located in Douglas County.WSA staff periodically contact the customer whose name appears on the waste hauler manifest to ensure they had their septic tank pumped.This is done as an internal controls measure to ensure WSA only receives acceptable septage loads generated in Douglas County.