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septic & sanitation

Maintaining Your System 

The #1 thing you can do to keep Koshlong Lake clean and healthy is to make sure your septic system is working optimally!

Most Cottages have septic systems, a series of tanks and drainage beds which hold and filter liquid waste from your kitchen and bathrooms. These operate differently than sewage systems and require care to prevent clogging and overflow, which can be costly to repair, and contaminate the lake you are here to enjoy. In our region of Haliburton, it is particularly important to maintain our septic systems properly because our soil and bedrock conditions are not always optimum for treatment.

Learn more below about how to care for your system.

Today’s septic tanks consist of water tight boxes divided into two compartments. Tanks are usually made of pre-cast concrete or plastic. Waste and water from your kitchen and bathrooms flows into the tank, where it separates into layers:

  • Organic solid material floats to the surface and forms a layer called the "crust" or "scum"
  • Bacteria in the septic tank biologically convert this material to liquid
  • Inorganic or inert solid materials and the by-products of the bacterial digestion sink to the bottom of the tank and form a layer called "sludge"
  • The water between the crust and sludge layers should be clear; this is what flows into the second compartment and then out to the soil absorption area

Bacteria must be present in the septic tank to digest the organic solids.

Normal household waste provides enough bacteria to keep the digestive process working properly, but use of anti-bacterial products can harm essential bacteria, so solids cannot be properly digested.

Overflow of solid material into the second compartment can cause septic failure!

The main causes of failure are:

  1. Insufficient bacteria in the tank 
  2. Excess water entering the tank
  3. Infrequent pumping of the tank
  4. Age or damage to the tank or pipes

Maintain a Healthy Septic:  

NEVER put in toilets or drains:

  • Food scraps of any kind - SCRAPE them into the trash!
  • Fats, oils, grease
  • Bleach or fabric softener
  • Antibacterial soaps or cleaners, including denture cleaner
  • Automatic toilet bowl cleaners
  • Sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms
  • Baby wipes, diapers
  • Nail polish remover
  • Dishwashing liquids containing bleach
  • Rinse agents
  • Cat litter
  • Gasoline
  • Antifreeze, Varnish, paint, solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Cigarettes


Follow these Simple Tips 


  • Choose phosphate and bleach free detergents and soaps
  • Limit water usage:
    • turn off the water while washing dishes, brushing teeth
    • repair or replace leaky fixtures
    • install low-flow shower heads and shorten time spent in showers
    • ​wash only 1 (one) load of laundry per day
  • Enhance the bacterial content of your system by adding Eco Ethic septic treatment monthly
  • Get your system inspected and cleaned every 3-5 years
  • WATCH for signs of a problem:
    • toilets or drains are backed up or running more slowly than usual
    • foul odours in the home or drinking water
    • soggy ground around the tank or leach bed
    • unusually green or thick grass around the leach bed
    • surface flooding, sewage or effluent around the tank or system
    • activated alarm signals
    • significant algae growth in nearby lake or river beds
    • high levels of nitrates, bacteria, other contaminants in well or lake water (drinking water testing is offered by the local health unit)

    Thanks to KLA member Rob Horsburgh for his photograph of Wallace Island used as the background photo throughout this site

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