MountainTrue and DHHS partner on program to repair failing septic systems

Press release from MountainTrue:

Buncombe and Henderson counties, NC — MountainTrue is partnering with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide septic repair grants to qualifying property owners in Buncombe and Henderson counties. Residential properties not close to cities or towns are highly likely to have onsite septic systems. Problems with septic systems usually arise as systems age or when maintenance is neglected. Qualifying property owners can review eligibility requirements and apply for the repair program at

“Leaking septic systems can threaten public health by polluting local waterways with harmful bacteria,” says Gray Jernigan, Deputy Director and General Counsel for MountainTrue. “But too often, homeowners don’t have the resources to fix the problem or have higher priority household expenses. MountainTrue is glad to help DHHS distribute this funding to those who need it most to benefit healthy public waters and communities.” 

According to French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson, leaking and failing septic systems are significant sources of bacteria pollution and other pathogens throughout the French Broad River Watershed. Fixing a failing septic system can be prohibitively expensive, but onsite septic systems provide many benefits when used correctly. Proper use reduces the risk of diseases and exposure to harmful pathogens by treating wastewater before it reaches surface drinking water sources or waters used for recreation. Decentralized waste systems also lower the infrastructure and energy costs communities would otherwise put towards collecting and treating wastewater. 

Here are nine important practices to consider when maintaining your own septic system: 

  1. Do not overload your system with water. Conserve water by avoiding excessive use and fixing leaky pipes and dripping faucets.
  2. Have solids pumped from your septic tank every three to five years. Maintenance schedules will depend on the tank size and the number of users.
  3. Keep the soil over the drain field covered with grass or other shallow-rooted plants to prevent erosion. Deep roots can clog systems. Maintain a healthy stand of grass to prevent erosion and excessive infiltration of water or ponding. 
  4. Do not drive on or otherwise compact the soil above the drain field.
  5. Flush only toilet tissue and human waste down the toilet. Septic systems are not designed to treat pet waste.
  6. Do not use toilet cleaners that hang in the tank, as they can corrode your toilet’s inner workings.
  7. When possible, refrain from using your garbage disposal. Do not dump coffee grounds, grease, oils, or fats down your drains.
  8. Do not use harsh household cleaners or put other toxic chemicals like bleach, paint, solvents, or pesticides down the drain.
  9. Learn the signs of a malfunctioning or failing system. Backed-up water in drains or toilets, abnormally green vegetation, soggy areas over the drain field, and a foul smell could all indicate system failure. 
About MountainTrue
MountainTrue champions resilient forests, clean waters, and healthy communities. We are committed to keeping our mountain region a beautiful place to live, work, and play. Our members protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities, and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all. MountainTrue is active in the Broad, French Broad, Green, Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, New, and Watauga watersheds and is home to the Broad Riverkeeper, French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper, and Watauga Riverkeeper. 
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