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Water Q & A - Water Conservation Effects on Wastewater

Failing System, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights August 2017.
Failing Wastewater System

Do you have questions about your private drinking water supply?  How about wellhead protection, including the management of your private sewage treatment system?  Send your questions using the Ask An Expert feature on this web site.  Questions will be addressed by Nebraska Extension Educator Meghan Sittler, Nebraska Extension Specialist Bruce Dvorak,  and/or  Nebraska Extension Educator Katie Pekarek. One question and answer will be featured each month in this section of the acreage web site.

Q: How does practicing good water conservation habits affect my wastewater system?

Meghan: If you live on an acreage or a farm water conservation is not only important for your water supply but is also equally important for the successful and appropriate operation of your individual wastewater system.  Increased water use in your home can also strain your wastewater system.  Your system is designed for a certain “load” of wastewater entering it each day.  Not exceeding that amount of wastewater or “load” is key to ensuring that your system operates properly. If your system’s load is exceeded the system will not be able to effectively treat the wastewater to remove harmful bacteria and other contaminants. The system can become overloaded and result in untreated wastewater rising to the surface and exposing you, surface and groundwater, as well as plants and animals to harmful contaminants.  Some simple tips to prevent your system from exceeding its designed load include:

  • Stagger loads of laundry throughout the week instead of washing all your laundry on one day
  • Composting leftover or discarded food can limit or eliminate the use of your garbage disposal and reduce the amount of both wastewater and solids entering your wastewater system
  • Practice other water conservation habits such as:
    • Fixing leaks in faucets immediately
    • Adjusting water levels within your toilets
    • Taking shorter showers and shutting of the water when brushing your teeth or shaving
    • Only running the dishwasher when there is a full load

Check out, or for many more tips on conserving water and properly operating and maintaining your wastewater system.

Meghan Sittler
Meghan Sittler
Extension Educator - Domestic Water & Wastewater
Meghan's education includes a master's degree in natural resources with minors in political science and environmental planning. She also has a graduate certification in public policy analysis, as well as undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and anthropology from UNL. Her graduate project was focused on the development of collaborative and adaptive management for the Missouri River.

Sittler began as coordinator of the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance in December 2008. Prior to that, Sittler worked for the National Park Service as an archaeological technician, an environmental educator with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, an adviser and instructor with the UNL Environmental Studies program and School of Natural Resources and as a research and outreach specialist for the National Drought Mitigation Center. Meghan began her work as a Nebraska Extension Educator focussing on water in 2016.

Lancaster County Extension Office
444 Cherrycreek Rd
Lincoln NE 68528-1591