The typical use for a septic system is on residential properties that don't have access to municipal sewer lines. However, properties in rural areas without municipal sewer lines often don't have access to the municipal water supply either. As a result, it's not uncommon for homes with septic systems to also rely on groundwater wells to provide fresh water to the house.
Of course, water quality and safety are top concerns for any well water system. Chemical and pathogenic contaminants can enter groundwater supplies, causing potentially severe health issues. While a well-maintained and properly installed septic system shouldn't affect a well, it's still crucial to understand a few design considerations for homes with wells and septic systems.
How Will Your Septic System Affect Your Well?
The simple answer is that your septic system shouldn't impact your groundwater. Modern septic system installations require careful design and testing that ensures proper effluent treatment. In other words, the water discharged from your septic system will generally be safe once it travels far enough through the soil to affect the groundwater.
In most cases, contamination is only a concern for older or failing septic systems. Routine maintenance, such as pumping, will also minimize the likelihood of groundwater contamination. However, contamination is still possible with improper design or installation, so it's critical to understand the steps necessary to protect your well water.
How Does Your Well Affect Your Septic System Design?
Most areas where septic systems are common will have local building codes specifying a minimum distance between a septic system drain field and a drinking water well. This distance is known as a "setback," and it's the bare minimum. Installing your septic system further away from your well will provide additional separation and reduce the likelihood of contamination.
It's also critical to understand the depth of your well and the type of soil around your home. Shallow wells and well-draining, sandy soil will allow effluent to reach your drinking water more quickly. Conversely, clay soil or very deep wells present lower risks. Consider increasing the distance between your septic drain field and well for high-risk wells or quick-draining soils.
Understanding the gradient and flow of your groundwater is also important. If your well is located "downstream" from your septic drain field, that will increase the likelihood of future contamination. Avoiding this may not be possible on some properties, in which case, an additional lateral separation between your septic system and well may be advisable.
Should You Worry About Contamination?
Septic systems are safe and effective methods for treating wastewater, and a correctly installed and maintained system does not pose a hazard to your home's well water. By taking the position of your well into account during the design and installation of your system, you can guarantee that your home's drinking water will remain safe and clean.
Contact a local septic tank service to learn more about septic system installation.Share