Posted on August 11, 2020

In Forest Lakes Subdivision, there are about 790 structures, whereby about 415 of them are connected to Forest Lake Metropolitan District’s sewer infrastructure.  This means that there are about 375 of these structures that are handling their wastes generated in their homes through on-site septic systems.  Is there a problem with this?  Definitely not…as long as these systems are being properly operated and maintained on a regular basis.  What is sewage? How does a septic system work?  What is a leech field?  Should I use chemicals in my septic system to help it operate?  If I have a septic system, how often should I inspect my tank and the leech field?  If I don’t see “stuff” coming out of the tank, am I Ok with not having it pumped on a regular basis?  How often should I get it pumped?  Are there possible environmental concerns if I don’t inspect my system or pump my tank regularly?  Definitely all great questions and as a homeowner, you should be able to find answers to these questions without too much effort.

Forest Lakes Metropolitan District provides a wastewater system and that takes care of the materials generated from homes that are connected to our infrastructure.  Put another way, we have jurisdiction over what goes into our system and we are required for the O&M of this system.  For on-site septic systems, you (the homeowner) are responsible for the O&M of the on-site septic system that is on your property.  Just like maintaining your vehicle, your OWTS requires maintenance too.  San Juan Basin Public Health, through their Environmental Public Health Program, is the regulatory authority for on-site water treatment systems (OWTS) in La Plata County.  Additional information on their programs can be found at:   https://sjbpublichealth.org/septic/.  On another note, if you are selling your property after January 1, 2019, your OWTS will be required to undergo an inspection prior to sale. This requirement helps identify failing and hazardous system and protects property buyers from unforeseen repair obligations.

So, back to the questions posed in the first paragraph.  There are several resources on the internet that will educate you as a homeowner on the proper O&M of your OWTS.  After spending a few minutes researching this, we have found 4 very good resources that should help you in this area.  Even though Forest Lakes Metropolitan District does not officially endorse these resources, we are providing them to help you make decisions concerning the O&M of your on-site septic systems:

https://www.epa.gov/septic/septic-systems-outreach-toolkit#homeowner

https://www.epa.gov/septic/how-care-your-septic-system

https://www.ihs.gov/california/tasks/sites/default/assets/File/SFC-MaintainingYourSepticSystemGuide.pdf

http://www.woodcountyhealth.org/envhealth/documents/sewage/Operation%20and%20Maintenance%20Guide.pdf

http://flmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Septic-Smart.pdf

We also found a very user-friendly YouTube video (20 minutes) that walks you through this information as well and it also delves into some of the technical aspects of OWTS:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udBaGyzJyU8

If you have a great resource on this topic and would like to share it with your neighbors, feel free to contact our office with that information (970)884-2925.