Bernalillo County- Tuesday, Sept. 13, is national “Protect Your Groundwater Day.” This preservation effort comes on the heels of Bernalillo County’s decision to remove the “2015” deadline from the waste water ordinance- a piece of legislation that requires homeowners, living on a septic system, to upgrade their system, preventing contaminants from leaking into the groundwater. Now that the deadline has been removed from the ordinance, the Bernalillo County Environmental Health Office is tasked with educating septic system owners on proper maintenance and groundwater protection methods.
“Maintaining your septic system is one of the best ways you can protect your groundwater,” says Environmental Health Manager George Schroeder. “With over 15,000 septic systems in Bernalillo County and at least 2,000 that are older than 30 years old- these systems are major contributors to groundwater contamination in our county.” Septic systems can contaminate groundwater and drinking water by releasing nitrates and bacteria into the ground, which can cause residents to become sick. In some areas of Bernalillo County, the aquifer, filled with drinking water, is only 10 feet below the ground, creating an easy route for contaminants to seep into the water. Homeowners living on a septic system are encouraged to periodically pump-out their system, and call our Environmental Health Office to learn about other maintenance options.
Hazardous household waste can also negatively impact groundwater. To prevent this type of tainting, the Environmental Health Office coordinates community clean-ups throughout the county.
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