Millions of Septic Tank Across US Could Fail Soon, Experts Warn

pumping out household septic tank. drain and sewage cleaning service

Global Warming strikes again.

Homeowners in the South are facing expensive repairs and public health issues as a result of failing septic systems caused by rising waters.

Millions of septic tanks dot the American South; nevertheless, as the world warms, septic tank overflow is becoming an issue for public health.

In order for septic systems to function correctly, they must lie above a specific level of dry soil. Prior to the wastewater reaching nearby rivers and underground water sources such as aquifers and wells, the soil acts as a filter, eliminating the majority of pathogens.

Subterranean soil barriers are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to the combination of increasing sea levels and more frequent severe rainfall. If they are submerged in water, these systems can malfunction and produce improperly treated effluent.

There has always been extreme weather, but as the earth gets hotter, storms happen more often and with more force. Case in point: in August 2023, Hurricane Idalia flooded most of Florida, forcing the relocation of many people and sinking streets.

Submersion of a traditional septic system can render toilets inoperable and lead to the overflow of waste onto yards and streets. Communities may be at risk for gastrointestinal illnesses and other health concerns, making this an easily preventable public health emergency.

At least 120,000 septic systems are still in use in Miami-Dade County, despite the fact that sea levels have increased 6 inches since 2010. Approximately half of them might be periodically compromised. The county is allegedly “racing to replace” as many as can be replaced in the shortest amount of time.

However, officials have not yet collected the billions of dollars needed to replace the costly septic systems. 

Environmentalists in South Carolina are reportedly suing the state government for allegedly accepting additional septic tank licenses without taking the impacts of increasing sea levels and harsher storms into account.