TWRI publishes septic system guide

Do you own a septic system?

The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) has published a new educational material titled Septic System Maintenance & Inspection Pocket Guide to help homeowners with problem solving and best management practices for their septic systems.

Developed by Nathan Glavy, TWRI extension program specialist; Stephanie deVilleneuve, TWRI research assistant; and Dr. Allen Berthold, TWRI senior research scientist, the pocket guide has illustrations labeling the differences between conventional and aerobic septic systems. Sarah Richardson, communications specialist for the institute, designed the guide and its illustrations.

Also included are maintenance tips for a longer lasting septic system, examples of a failing system, household practices to avoid, resources for more information and lastly, a form to record septic system maintenance and inspection details.

Glavy said TWRI published the pocket guides to give rural landowners an educational resource for septic system ownership.

“In the watershed protection planning process, we do extensive stakeholder input and meetings to identify sources of pollution,” he said. “In some watersheds, failing septic systems have been identified as a key source of increased bacteria and nutrient loading.”

Inspecting and maintaining septic systems can help prevent negative impacts on local water quality and public health.

“We hope the pocket guide can help homeowners be more proactive in identifying, inspecting and taking appropriate maintenance measures to tackle these failing systems,” Glavy said.

To prevent failing septic systems from leaching into the watershed, Glavy recommends that septic system owners check their system routinely for signs of failure, particularly if the system is in close proximity to a water body.

When it comes to maintenance, Glavy said effluent screens should be cleaned every 1-2 years on conventional systems and all system types should be professionally pumped every 3-5 years.

In addition to the pocket guide, these septic system fact sheets are also available on the TWRI website: Maintenance Tips for a Longer Lasting Septic System and Is Your Septic System Failing?.

For more septic system information, visit or contact your local environmental health department.

A list of TWRI’s Educational Materials can be found here.

Funding for the Septic System Maintenance & Inspection Pocket Guide was provided by a Texas Coastal Management Program Grant approved by the Texas Land Commissioner pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA17NOS4190139.


As a communications specialist for TWRI, Sarah Richardson works with the institute's communications team leading graphic design projects including TWRI News, flyers, brochures, reports, documents and other educational materials. 

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