Septic Systems


In 2017 Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council (TOMWC) provided a comprehensive report titled “The Septic Question” written by Grenetta Thommasey PhD, most of which was featured in the June publication of the MAPS newsletter. “The Project Report presents research related to the topic of on-site septic wastewater disposal and treatment systems (septic systems), with a special focus on local concerns.” The entire report can be found on the Tip of the Mitt website, . As noted in Ms. Thommasey’s report “Michigan is the only state in the nation without uniform standards for how onsite septic systems are designed, built, installed and maintained.”

Unfortunately there is no statewide septic code legislation in Michigan although two bills (HB 5732 and HB 5733) were proposed in 2016 to “establish a baseline set of state
septic regulations” and a “supplemental appropriation to establish the program including statewide database of septic systems”. At this time no further action, other than passing the bills, has taken place within the state legislature. Ms. Thommasey goes on to report that section 12752 of the Michigan Public Health Code, Act 368 of 1978, was written to establish the need for public sewer systems. But it also highlights some of the problems with septic systems:

“…Septic tank disposal systems are subject to failure due to soil conditions or other reasons. Failure or potential failure of septic tank disposal system poses a
threat to the public health, safety, and welfare; presents a potential for ill health, transmission or disease, mortality, and economic blight; and constitutes a threat to the quality of surface and subsurface waters of this state…”

Cottages and homes owners on Mullett Lake may be aware of that.

Mullett Lake is monitored every three years through the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council’s Comprehensive Water Quality Monitoring (CWQM) Program for dissolved oxygen, specific conductivity, pH, nitrate-nitrogen, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and chloride levels.

MAPS works closely with TOMWC in these efforts and recently completed a study, results of which can be found on MAPS and TOMWC websites.

Regarding “the 2016 shorline survey report: if you look on the maps where cladorphora (algae) was present along the shore this coincides with poor greenbelts in the area.

Poorly maintained septic systems can often exacerbate algae growth”. According to Dave Edwards of the TOMWC. Dave goes on to remind property owners with septic
systems that “proper and consistent maintenance of septic systems on private property will help to prevent failure and/or costly repair.”

Here are some tips on how to care for your system:

1. Have your septic system cleaned on a regular basis, even when it appears to be working properly. For instance for a a family of four with a 1,000 gallon tank
should have their tank pumped every two years. For those of you who do not live on the lake year round you can estimate, given the average number of people who
use the home at any given time, how often your tank should be pumped.

2. Don’t use your septic tank as a dumpster. Your toilets, sinks, showers and washers all empty into your septic system. Feminine products, wipes, contraceptive devices and waste from a garbage disposal are a few examples of items that should not be flushed.

3. Location. Know where your system is located. It will save time (and money) when locating it for maintenance and allow you to avoid placing man-made or natural
objects on or near it.

With some active management and greater awareness of our indidvidual septic tank conditions we can all contribute to and enjoy the good health of Mullett Lake.