There are more than 78 million dogs in the United States, producing millions of tons of poop annually. The question most pet owners have is how they should dispose of their pet’s waste. Some pet owners have tried composting, while others dump it into a landfill. Many flush it down the toilet or put it into their home’s septic system.
Many municipalities have rules about the type of waste that can be flushed down the toilet. In the case of septic tanks, pet waste isn’t recommended for most systems. In most cases, homeowners should look up the specifications of their current septic system to see if it meets the criteria set out by the manufacturer.
Why shouldn’t you dump your pet’s waste in your septic system?
Most septic systems were designed to handle human waste and many areas of the country have rules in place regulating what types of waste can be disposed of in that way. Florida poses a special problem when it comes to septic systems. The first one is that the state has so many bodies of water that could be impacted if a septic system isn’t working properly that it has started more heavily regulating existing septic systems to make sure they are in compliance and aren’t leaking waste into local springs, groundwater or streams, rivers and lakes. It also has implemented new rules requiring new septic systems to have some sort of nitrogen filter installed on them to combat the human and pet waste that is migrating into Southwest Florida’s water supply.
According to a story in the News-Press in early 2019, scientists from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute sampled both groundwater and surface water in the North Fort Myers area from 2017 to 2018. The area is known for having more than 2,000 septic tanks. What it found is that the surrounding water systems were high in nitrogen content from fertilizers, pet poop and failed septic systems among other causes.
The study also found that 91% of the septic systems in the study area were too shallow to clean what was coming out of residential homes.
The study recommended that homeowners whose septic systems were found to be out of compliance should retrofit their septic system to make sure it isn’t leaking and is actually cleaning up the waste it is supposed to treat or find better ways to manage storm runoff.
The problem with dumping pet poop into a septic system is that it could overload your system, depending on how much waste you are adding to your existing waste stream. If you have more than one dog, or very large dogs, that could create an even bigger problem. The poop from a large dog could clog your septic systems because the pipes on older systems aren’t large enough to handle it. Clogged pipes and inlet baffles could cause a waste backup into your house.
If you want to deposit pet waste into your septic system, it is important that you contact a septic system professional to come out and determine if your current system can handle the additional load. It is also important to note that cat poop should never be deposited into a septic system or municipal sewage treatment system because it contains a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii that can enter the drinking water supply and is harmful to people. Cat litter can also clog up pipes and drains.
Signs your septic system is failing
If your septic system needs to be pumped out frequently or wastewater is backing up into your home or yard, you probably need to bring in a professional to inspect your system for leaks or damage. Other signs of failure include foul smells coming from partially treated wastewater on the ground, blowouts on the shoulders of the septic system’s drain field, pooling water, sewage or muddy soil around your septic system or strips of bright green grass over the drain field.
At Crews Environmental, we have been working with homeowners in Southwest Florida for more than 30 years. We specialize in septic tank pump-outs and maintenance, septic system inspections, real estate point of sale septic inspections, drain field repair, emergency service and grease trap cleaning. If you live in Southwest Florida and have questions about your existing septic system, give us a call today. We are happy to come out and inspect your system and work with you on the best solution to any problems we find.
Crews Environmental is the leading company for septic services in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. We are available 24/7 for any emergency pump out needs! Call us today at 239-347-0644 to schedule a same-day appointment!