MOST owners of individual septic tank systems consider it to be a system that traps wastewater from home and believe that there is no need to concern themselves with the maintenance of the system or desludging – but nothing can be further from the truth.
In fact, an individual septic tank system is a sedimentary tank where wastewater from family activities in the house such as showering, washing clothes, toilets and cleaning dishes will be discharged into the tank.
Usually, we will be able to see four rectangular metal covers on the septic tank and its position is either in front, side or behind our house. If there are no four metal covers, it means your home is most likely a connected sewerage system that directly channels your wastewater to a centralised sewage treatment plant.
Many are unaware that individual septic tanks have limited capability in providing initial or partial treatment for sewage from our homes on a daily basis. Generally, every individual septic tank owner is required to maintain it by emptying the septic tank, also known as desludging, at least once every two years or perhaps more frequently.
This means that if the occupant or owner of this tank has never emptied the septic tank for more than five or ten years, then this septic tank will definitely not function properly anymore. At this juncture, the wastewater from the house that flows into the individual septic tank only passes through the septic tank without any treatment, which in turn will flow into drains, rivers or waterways. When this happens, many may not realise that the owner of the septic tank is also a contributor to water resource pollution.
There are about 1.35 million individual septic tanks nationwide and most of these individual septic tanks may have been over 40 years old, without the attention of the homeowners.
According to Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Narendran Maniam, only about 10% ten percent of the total number of individual septic tanks in the country undergo scheduled desludging.
“About 90% of the total septic tanks do not conduct scheduled desludging every year. The pollution substance released by the 1.2 million septic tanks that do not undergo desludging works has a very bad effect on our rivers, ” added Narendran.
The pollution from untreated wastewater due to improper care of the individual septic tanks will coalesce with wastewater from other sources such as industry, plantation, livestock, agriculture, squatter communities and illegal exploration, to name a few.
"This will turn rivers and waterways as open sewers and it will definitely be detrimental, especially when these rivers involved are sources of catchment for drinking water, as well as the destruction of aquatic life in it," said Narendran.
Without us realising it, the action of not regularly desludging septic tanks is akin to allowing the pollution of water sources from our own home.
The Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Section 65) has clearly stated that the occupants or owners of individual septic tanks must operate and maintain their respective systems, with the failure to perform regular maintenance or desludging leading to fines.
Accordingly, the owners or users of individual septic tanks should play their respective roles as part of a responsible society, especially in caring for the environment and water resources.
Do not procrastinate in desludging your septic tank and it is better if you can conduct scheduled desludging in order to protect our environment. Contact IWK immediately for scheduled individual septic tank desludging services.
For more information, visit iwk.com.my.