December 6, 2018

Septic Systems

More than one in five households in the United States depend on individual onsite or small community cluster septic systems to treat their waste water according to the EPA.  In Kentucky, about 40% of homes have septic systems that provide on-site wastewater management.  If used and maintained properly, septic systems can provide adequate treatment for most pollutants. 


However, failing septic systems are a danger to the health and safety of everyone as these systems release partially treated waste into the environment to contaminate nearby wells, ground water, rivers, and lakes.  It is estimated that a failing septic system can discharge 63 thousand gallons of untreated waste water into Kentucky’s environment per year.   

Property owners are responsible for the septic systems on their property.  Should one fail, the property owner is responsible to make sure the septic system is repaired or replaced.  Failure to repair or replace a failing system could result in not only civil liability, but also criminal liability in some instances depending on the specific facts involved and the laws enacted by your local jurisdiction.  Moreover, in Kentucky, a septic system must meet certain standards as set by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  Inspections to ensure a septic system that is installed or repaired meets these standards are completed by the Northern Kentucky Health Department.  To learn more about the inspection process, please see their website at:  

Despite the potential liability and harm, many people are not familiar with septic systems even though they may have one at their home.  There are many resources available online to find information about septic systems and how to maintain a system including the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Environmental Management Branch website at:  

In addition, the Campbell County Extension Office offers a course on how septic systems function and ways to better maintain systems and increase longevity.  This free course, titled “Care and Feeding Your Septic System” is presented by Dr. Brad Lee, a Soil and Water Specialist from the University of Kentucky Soil and Water Extension.  The next opportunity to take this hour and half course is December 4, 2018 from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Campbell County Extension Office.  For more information and to register, call (859) 572-2600 or online at:  

If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

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