What's Going on Down There?

Why do we pump out septic tanks?

The sludge that accumulates in the bottom of a septic system needs to be pumped out every 3 to 5 years to keep the system from getting clogged. This pumpout extends the life of the system and provides an opportunity for a licensed professional to ensure your system is still functioning properly BEFORE it backs up into your home!

Did you know?

Most systems fail into groundwater or adjacent waterways before they fail into your home? So your system could be malfunctioning, and you never know until it’s a HUGE problem.

In Planning District 16

Residents in every county (except Caroline) and the City are required to pump out every 5 years per the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act. In Caroline County, you are required to pumpout if you are within 100 ft of a waterway (called a Resource Protection Area or RPA).



Increasing property owner compliance with the mandatory 5-year septic system inspection and/or septic tank pump-outs required under Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (CBPA), related state regulations and local CBPA ordinances would help Virginia achieve its Chesapeake Bay TMDL goal to reduce Nitrogen (N). Moreover, better septic system maintenance could reduce bacteria pollutant loadings to meet local impaired stream TMDLs throughout the region. Through this study, researchers create spatial data files locating properties on sewer and septic, and examine public records of septic tank pump-outs and alternative septic system operating and maintenance services to delineate a potential spatial pattern of deferred or ignored septic maintenance. Chesapeake Bay TMDL data on septic sector BMPs are evaluated and revised for the WIP III process. Finally, authors define a program of targeted public education, financial incentives and regulatory enforcement efforts that could, if implemented, significantly affect higher compliance with CBPA pump-out ordinances and enhance local and regional water quality.


Full Plan with Appendices

Full Onsite Wastewater System Management in PD16 and the Rappahannock Area Health District (2019)

In 2019, Virginia’s Department of Health in conjunction with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science conducted a study on failing septic systems in the coastal zone. They estimated that:

“Half of all septic systems in Virginia have some potential for contributing pollutant loads to already impaired waters.”

Wastewater Islands

Research out of Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) demonstrates the impact of failing septic systems on water quality.
Read the Full StudyOpen Map