Inland Lakes and Septic Tanks
There was an article in the Fall 2015 Michigan magazine titled "Our Inland Lakes and Septic Tanks". We all know and are concerned about the health of our lake. We also know that septic tanks, when not functioning properly can cause more weeds and contamination of the lake water. Septic systems have been common as a way to manage waste since development on inland lakes began. Here are some excerpts from the article:
"Septic systems have four main components consisting of a pipe from the residence, a septic tank or reservoir, a drainage field, and the surrounding soils. On ideal soil types, microbes in the soil are able to decompose nutrients and reduce the probability of groundwater contamination.However, the land around many lakes in Michigan contain soils that are not suitable for septic systems. Soils that are not very permeable, prone to saturation or ponding and have mucks, exist around many lakes and residences with septic systems."
"Typical septic tank effluents are rich in nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, chlorides, fecal coliform, sulfates, and carbon (Cantor and Knox, 1985). Phosphorus and nitrogen have long been identified as the key causes of nuisance aquatic plant and algae growth in inland lakes. Although phosphorus is often the limiting growth factor for aquatic plant growth, nitrogen is often more mobile in the groundwater and thus is found in abundance in the groundwater."
"Thus, land use activities such as failing septic systems may not only affect aquatic plant biomass and algal biomass, but also the composition and species richness of aquatic plant communities."
"What You Can Do For Your Lake
The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) offers excellent educational resources and reference materials that riparians can use to care for their septic systems. To learn more about septic systems and how to care for them, visit the website: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/septic/."
Be aware of the water quality in our lake and report any unusual vegetation immediately!
Also, maintain your septic tank and keep it in good operating condition!
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