Synopsis: Homeowners can damage their aerobic wastewater treatment systems by improperly using or discarding household items.

Application: Disposing kitty litter in the trash, not putting excess weight over the underground system, and fixing leaky faucets are all simple steps to preserve one’s treatment system.

Mildred stared up at the huge oak tree beside her home. She was contemplating a method to get her beloved tabby cat, Harvey, down from his prison. The cat had been stuck high in the branches all morning after being chased up there by a neighborhood dog.

“Harvey, I’ll get you down I promise,” the old woman called up to her cat with only terrified meows in reply. Possibly her son’s truck would be tall enough to stand on and reach her beloved pet. Just as Mildred began to pull the truck into her yard she heard the words, “No stop!” from a robotic-like figure descending from the sky. Mildred put the car in park and stepped out to gaze upon a bionic woman that she recognized but could not place where she had seen her before.

“Oh, I recognize her from the door hanger that was left by the service guy the other day, she looks even better in person!”Mildred thought to herself

“Hello there! My name is Aerobe and I am a BioMicrobics Onsite Treatment Specialist,” she explained as her feet landed softly on the ground. “I was stopping by to visit you because there have been a few clogs in your system over this past year. I was hoping to educate you on proper care of your waste water treatment system.. I apologize for yelling, but you were about to perform one of the don’ts of treatment system care. Your system is underground here beside your house and it is not designed to support excessive weight. Driving a truck over it could damage the system, which can withstand only 1,750 pounds.”

“Oh no!” Mildred exclaimed. “I didn’t mean any harm, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren are away at work and school for the day. I was trying to find a way to rescue my cat from the tree,” she explained as she pointed up toward a distressed Harvey.

Aerobe quickly jetted into the air, grabbed the cat, and returned the distraught animal to his owner. “I can easily assist in kitty rescues anytime, but educating customers on proper system maintenance can be pawsitively catastrophic,” Aerobe joked with a wink. “Would you have time to learn about using your waste water system properly to maximize its performance?” Aerobe asked.

“Of course! Thank you so much for saving my cat and I would love to learn.” Mildred replied gratefully.

“Great! Well first, it is important that you have regular professional maintenance to make sure that your system is functioning properly. . Along with the care from your service provider, you can do lots of things to ensure high quality water treatment.” Aerobe explained. “Currently your vent and blower are clear of debris, but this tree may drop leaves that could block the vents and hinder the system. Be sure that these two areas on the treatment system are cleared off to prevent trouble.”

“That is a simple task I will be sure to do,” Mildred agreed. “I actually try to minimize use of the system by turning off the blower when we go on vacations. I don’t want any energy to go to waste.”

“Though you have good intentions,” Aerobe replied, “this can actually be harmful to your system. I recommend that you do not manually turn off the blower. Instead, the FAST® system has a built in SFR® feature that can turn the blower on and off in the appropriate sequences. This feature can be used in accordance with your state or county regulations, but it can save power without risking malfunction.”

“Also note that there is an alarm on your system that detects important changes in the tank. If it sounds contact your service provider immediately so that any issues can be solved. You may turn off the alarm sound by pressing the reset button,” Aerobe explained. “Those are the most important facts to note out here. Could I come inside your home to teach you some more important tips?” Aerobe asked politely.

“Yes of course! This is all very helpful and I should bring little darling Harvey in before he gets in more trouble.” Aerobe followed Mildred into the back door and Mildred set Harvey down on the couch next to another big tom cat.

“Wow! You must love cats,” Aerobe explained as she gave the animals pats on the head. “I have a robo-dog that I call B-Dubs. His name is short for Better Water, Better World.”

“That is adorable! I love dogs as well, but I have my hands full with the cats I have accumulated over the years. Come on into the kitchen and make yourself at home while you teach me some more helpful hints to properly maintain my treatment system,” Mildred said cheerfully. Inside the kitchen there was a small grey kitten playing with the stream of water dripping out of the faucet.

“I leave the water running because the cats love to play with it,” Mildred explained as Aerobe examined the kitten. “I spoil them terribly.”

Aerobe responded, “Though it may be a fun toy, I think a ball of yarn would be better suited. Leaking fixtures create excessive water use that can strain your wastewater system.”

“That does make sense,” Mildred replied as she turned off the sink, “I don’t think I realized how much extra water I was unnecessarily imposing upon the system. And now this gives me a great excuse to go to the pet store for new kitty toys!” Mildred laughed and continued, “I do try to assist the system by adding some septic tank additives or enzymes. I think that pretreated water would make less work for the system.”

“I do see your rational, but adding those things to your water can actually damage parts of your FAST® septic system,” Aerobe explained. “Instead, if you would like to help, you should try to minimize the amount of FOG (fat, oil, and grease) from foods placed down the drain. Also, do not put cleaners that contain quaternary ammonia sanitizers, pine oil cleaners or harsh chemicals and toxins down the sink. Examples of harsh chemicals or toxins would be paint, solvents, and pesticides.”

“I can easily do those things,” Mildred said intrigued. “What else can I do or not do to help the system function well?”

“If you would continue to show me your beautiful home, I could explain more applicable tips for each area,” Aerobe replied. Mildred led the bionic woman into the laundry room. “Now here is a great spot to utilize correct waste water system care!” Aerobe exclaimed. “Some products used here can be harmful to the system. Use a low-sud biodegradable low phosphate detergent along with dryer sheets instead of liquid fabric softener. These are better for the environment and your system.”

“Okay, now that may take a little convincing but I can certainly suggest switching the kind of detergent we use if it’ll help,” Mildred agreed. “I’ll take you upstairs now to see the bathroom.”

“Of course,” Aerobe said as she was led past a room. “Which room is this?” she inquired.

“That is just my daughter-in-laws office,” she answered, “no water is used in there.”

“Though it may not have any drains or faucets, the office is important to store your records of manuals, plans, and services related to your septic system,” Aerobe explained. “Be sure to hold on to those important documents.” Mildred nodded in agreement and they headed upstairs.

They walked into a large bathroom that contained a couple litter boxes. “I actually keep the litter boxes in here because I like to flush down the clumps of litter that I scoop out of the box. I haven’t quite gotten the cats potty trained!” she laughed.

Aerobe smiled, but responded, “Since most types of kitty litter are clay or silica, it is actually very bad to put them down the drain. Even if you are using an environmentally friendly kitty litter, it is still best to throw it away in the garbage bin instead. That is most likely the biggest issue that is causing blockages in your system. Also do not put personal care products, cloth towels, plastic bags, or other trash items down the drain. These will clog a system faster than your cats can go through a bag of cat food!” she joked.

“Well now I feel silly,” Mildred replied. “The clogs were so easily preventable. I will be much more conscientious of what I put down the drain.”

“That is good to hear.” Aerobe acknowledged. “Also be aware that some hair products can be damaging to the system because they add harmful oils and chemicals. I see some prescription drugs here on the sink,” she observed pointing to a few orange bottles.

“Yes those are my pills that I take to stay healthy,” Mildred said, “Old age can bring new problems,” she laughed.

Aerobe smiled and advised, “It is always smart to notify your service provider if someone in the household is using medication. Special precautions are taken with the system to ensure quality water treatment. And of course, never dispose of those pills down the drain.”

“Okay! I am so glad to have learned all of this. I’ll notify the rest of my family of the few simple changes we’ll be making to ensure that our system never fails again,” Mildred said as she led Aerobe back downstairs.

“Yes, that would be purrfect,” Aerobe replied happily. “My last tip is for you to spread your water use evenly throughout the week, such as with dishwashers or laundry. This will prevent system overloads. I think that if you and your family heed to all of the do’s and don’ts of treatment system care; you will not have any more ap-paw-lling mishaps.”

They walked back out into the summer morning sunshine.