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Athens-Clarke County Septic System Inventory and Education Program

In the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Short Term Work Plan (2014-2018), there is a work activity that states "Collaborate with state agencies to explore the feasibility of a maintenance and monitoring ordinance for onsite wastewater management systems and to educate the public on the proper use and maintenance of septic systems." Aging septic systems are a threat to human health, water quality, and the environment. Athens-Clarke County undertook to solve the issue locally, and address this particular comprehensive plan activity with funds from an EPD 319 Grant in conjunction with the Upper Oconee Water Planning Council.

Athens-Clarke County (ACC) has nineteen stream segments listed on the EPD 303(d) list for fecal coliform contamination. Using funds from a 319 Grant, ACC developed a program to address the issue. The program:

- created a comprehensive inventory of all septic systems, the first of its kind in the State of Georgia, that was used to determine watersheds affected by failing septic systems and determine the target audience for septic maintenance education;
- developed an educational campaign which created and delivered original educational materials to the public;
- developed a sampling and monitoring plan to analyze ACC septic watersheds for fecal coliform and optical brighteners to determine the level of impact septic systems may have on local watersheds and to gage the impact of the education campaign.

This activity also addressed another item in the ACC work program to develop ordinances and other programs to Explore opportunities to amend Athens-Clarke County Code to enhance the protection of natural environmental features such as topography, mature forests, rock outcrops, historic sites and streams. The creation of the septic inventory, education campaign, and the water quality monitoring program has successfully helped ACC understand the impacts of failing septic systems and to work on de-listing impaired streams.

It also demonstrated the lack of septic system knowledge pushing ACC staff to continue the education efforts through the Clarke County Health Department, ACC Stormwater Program and Water Conservation Office. The Septic System inventory and educational materials can be used as a template for communities throughout the state of Georgia. The materials can be previewed in the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Short Term Work Plan (2014-2018), there is a work activity that states Collaborate with state agencies to explore the feasibility of a maintenance and monitoring ordinance for onsite wastewater management systems and to educate the public on the proper use and maintenance of septic systems. Aging septic systems are a threat to human health, water quality, and the environment. Athens-Clarke County undertook to solve the issue locally, and address this particular comprehensive plan activity with funds from an EPD 319 Grant in conjunction with the Upper Oconee Water Planning Council.

Athens-Clarke County (ACC) has nineteen stream segments listed on the EPD 303(d) list for fecal coliform contamination. Using funds from a 319 Grant, ACC developed a program to address the issue. The program:

- created a comprehensive inventory of all septic systems, the first of its kind in the State of Georgia, that was used to determine watersheds affected by failing septic systems and determine the target audience for septic maintenance education;
- developed an educational campaign which created and delivered original educational materials to the public;
- developed a sampling and monitoring plan to analyze ACC septic watersheds for fecal coliform and optical brighteners to determine the level of impact septic systems may have on local watersheds and to gage the impact of the education campaign.

This activity also addressed another item in the ACC work program to develop ordinances and other programs to Explore opportunities to amend Athens-Clarke County Code to enhance the protection of natural environmental features such as topography, mature forests, rock outcrops, historic sites and streams. The creation of the septic inventory, education campaign, and the water quality monitoring program has successfully helped ACC understand the impacts of failing septic systems and to work on de-listing impaired streams.

It also demonstrated the lack of septic system knowledge pushing ACC staff to continue the education efforts through the Clarke County Health Department, ACC Stormwater Program and Water Conservation Office. The Septic System inventory and educational materials can be used as a template for communities throughout the state of Georgia. The materials can be previewed at www.athensclarkecounty.com/septic.
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ACC Public Information Office 
706-613-3795
savewater@athensclarkecounty.com

http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/septic.
 

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