Sewage Management Program
Lower Macungie Township's Sewage Management Program is a regulatory program that was enacted by the Township in 2013, as a requirement of the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), for the purpose of ensuring adequate sewage treatment facilities, particularly with regard to on-lot sewage disposal systems, and for the protection of public health by preventing the discharge of untreated (or partially untreated) sewage.
The Sewage Management Program allows for regulation, inspections, maintenance and rehabilitation of on-lot sewage disposal systems. The program further permits intervention in situations that may constitute a pubic nuisance or hazard to pubic health. The program establishes appeal procedures necessary for the proper administration of an on-lot sewage management program.
On-Lot Sewage Disposal System Maintenance Requirements
Every person owning a building/structure served by an on-lot sewage disposal system must have their system cleaned out and inspected by a Township-registered pumper/hauler at least once every five years. Upon inspection, the pumper/hauler shall complete a Sewage Hauler Record of Pumping report, which must be submitted to the Township within 30 days of the inspection and/or cleanout. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that the completed form is submitted to the Township. Although, most of our registered pumpers/haulers will submit a copy of the report on the homeowner's behalf.
If a property owner has not had their system cleaned out and inspected within the last five years, they will receive an overdue inspection notice. The property owner will have thirty days to supply an updated cleanout/inspection receipt. Failure to comply with the notice in the allotted timeframe is considered a violation of the Ordinance. Each day of noncompliance is considered a separate offense.
If you are unsure as to when your system was last cleaned out and inspected, please contact your pumper/hauler. As an alternative, you may contact our Water Resources Specialist, Zach Graves, at 610-966-4343 extension 121.
How Does a Septic System Work?
There are two basic types of anaerobic (without oxygen) on-lot sewage disposal systems; those with gravity distribution systems and those with pressurized distribution systems. Both types exhibit three major components:
- The septic tank
- The distribution box (gravity system) or dosing tank (pressure system)
- The absorption area
Sewage flows leave the house through the building sewer and flow into the septic tank, where the primary treatment process takes place. In the tank, the heaviest materials settle to the bottom of the tank (forming sludge) and the lighter materials (scum) float on top of the liquid level, which is referred to as effluent. While sludge and scum must be pumped out regularly, the effluent (or clear liquid) flows out of the tank into a distribution box or dosing tank, and is then directed into the absorption area by gravity flow or through pressurized pipes. Within the absorption area, effluent exists through pipes (or laterals) into a layer of gravel, and then percolates through the soil for additional treatment. Bacteria in the soil neutralizes most of the contaminants found in wastewater.
Signs of a Failing or Malfunctioning System
The following signs indicate that your on-lot sewage disposal system may be failing:
- Surfacing raw sewage
- Sewage backup into plumbing fixtures
- Sponginess around septic tank, distribution box or dosing tank, and absorption area
- Sewer odors in the house and/or drinking water
- Illness, generally amongst household guests
- Toilet runs sluggish
- Dosing pump runs constantly or not at all
- Dosing tank alarm light is on
How to Prevent Malfunctions
Homeowners can help prevent malfunctions and ensure the long-term use of their on-lot sewage disposal system by doing the following:
- Conserve water and reduce waste flow into the septic tank
- Have the septic tank pumped out at least once every three to five years, depending upon the tank size and household usage
- Avoid discharging chemicals into the septic system (e.g., antifreeze, bleach, detergents, gasoline, oils and grease, paint, pesticides, varnish, etc.)
- Do not use the toilet to dispose of bulky, slow decomposing wastes (i.e., baby wipes, condoms, cotton products, diapers, feminine products, paper towels, tissues, etc.)
- Inspect the septic tank, pipes, and drain field annually
- Maintain accurate records of the septic system (i.e., cleanings, design, inspections, installation, location, malfunctions, repairs)
- Prevent runoff from downspouts, sump pumps, and paved surfaces from getting into the absorption area
- Keep heavy equipment or vehicles away from any components of the septic system
- Do not plant shrubs or trees over or close to the septic system