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  • Establishments such as apartment buildings, campgrounds/RV parks, restaurants, businesses, etc. generally have a larger number of system us- ers compared to single-family units. Examine the amount of usage of the system to ensure that it is not overloaded and that it is appropriate for the location, size, and type of establishment.

  • When searching the property, be thorough so that you only have to search once!

  • Locating the subsurface system can be tricky. If necessary, ask the property owner and/or locate the HHE-200 form (available through the munici- pality) indicating the system design and location. A septic tank can sometimes be located by the presence of a rectangular outline on the lawn, and cesspools are easily located by their cover. Look for indirect evidence of the building sewer pipe by locating the sewer vent pipe on the roof. Typically, the building sewer runs a straight line to the cess- pool or septic tank, but can also bend or corner from the basement outlet.

  • Much can be accomplished simply by using your eyes and nose! Look for low wet spots and areas of lush plant growth. The presence of lush veg- etation, such as unusually large jewelweed can in- dicate a problem. Look for seepage from rock walls or at the base of slopes. Smell the air. Use a stick or metal probe to smell the mud and/or sediment. If necessary, col- lect a sample of liquid for bacterial analysis. The

Conducting the Sanitary Survey

point of discharge may not always have an odor, especially if it is dilute or if it is subject to tidal fluctuation.

  • If a discharge is found during the inspection and if the occupant is home, talk with them immediately to communicate the problem and potential solu- tions.

  • Record all findings on the field datasheet (see Appendix IV).This includes tax map and lot number, distance of pollution source to water, etc. If a viola- tion is found, it needs to be thoroughly documented.

  • Dye tests/plumbing inspections for a prioritized list of properties may need to be scheduled following the initial sanitary survey if property owners are not home during the initial visit.

  • Sanitary surveys are not limited to malfunctioning septic systems. Any potential source of bacterial contamination from farming and other land uses should be noted. Record the presence of question- able pipes and drains (e.g., cellar drain, sink drain) on the property. Look for evidence of gray water discharge, including detergent or soap residue, hair or lint, food particles, etc. Record the presence of pet waste and evidence of lawn care practices such as fertilizer application. Estimate the potential runoff. Record storm drains and/or culverts adja- cent to the property.

Photos this page—Maine DEP


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