Starting next week Canterbury District Health Board is to survey septic systems in Darfield to see if they are meeting health and environmental needs.
The survey will allow health officials to assess the volume of sewage and wastewater being processed and will identify any health or environmental issues resulting from the operation of the septic systems. Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the survey will help establish how septic tanks are being used and maintained.
"Darfield is the largest New Zealand town not fully reticulated and we're interested to see whether the septic tank system is still meeting the town's needs," Dr Humphrey says. Recent population growth has seen an influx of people into the Selwyn District and people new to the area may not be used to septic systems or appreciate the on-going care and maintenance required, he says. "Septic systems can work well in rural areas but tank owners need to be careful with what they put down their sink and use in their home." Dr Humphrey says poorly operated and maintained septic tanks can overflow and send contaminants into nearby surface and ground water.
"This can create a number of health risks through its effect on groundwater and recreational water can also be affected." More than 100 households and at least 10 commercial premises will be included in the sanitary survey. Each visit will last about 30 minutes and will involve a discussion with the household about how they manage their septic system, as well as a visual assessment of the septic system. Survey results are anonymous and confidential. Information gained from individual inspections will not made available to any other party.
The survey's overall findings will be complied into a report for the Selwyn District Council, ESR and the Ministry of Health. "The final report will contribute to the evidence decision makers need to decide about future wastewater management for the area," Dr Humphrey says.
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