b'Dont kill the bugs: Flushing chemicals down the drain can kill bacteria in your septic tank. When these bacteria stop working, the sludge accumulates and is more likely to escape the tank and clog your leaching system. Dont fl ood the soil absorption system: Roof drains and stormwater runoffshould be diverted away from your system to prevent periodic fl ooding. Dont compact the soil absorption area: Dont park your car on or drive over the system. The compaction of the soil from the weight of the vehicle will reduce the systems capacity. Compost it: Dont use the sink as a garbage disposal. This will add solids and grease to the tank that may exceed the ability of the bacteria to digest it. Compost what you can and dispose of greasy waste in your regular trash. Dont fl ood the system with Hot Tub water: Releasing a large volume of hot, chlorinated water into the septic system willkill the bacteria that are busily breaking down the waste.If you must drain your hot tub or spa, allow several days for the water to cool and the chlorine levels to dissipate and then slowly drain it onto the ground in a manner that will not impact your neighbors or natural resources (i.e., dont drain into wetlands).A septic system pump-out and sludge disposal usually costs a few hundred dollars. Replacing a septic system may cost well over $20,000!Advancing Beyond the Septic SystemExcessive nutrients fl owing from septic systems in our densely populated town have led to signifi cant decreases in water quality in Chatham.With guidance from the Chatham Department of Health and Environment and coordination by Friends of Chatham Waterways, over 150 volunteers have tested and sampled our water quality for eleven years at 25 stations in Chathams saltwater estuaries.Data gathered by Chatham Water Watchers, our water-quality monitors, has been used by Massachusetts authorities to determine the amount of nitrogen that must be removed from each estuary to restore ecosystem health.At the same time, our freshwater lakes and ponds have been tested to determine where phosphorus levels must be reduced to restore their health.Chatham relies on clean, productive, and aesthetically pleasing waterways for tourism, recreational swimming, fi sh and boating, as well as for commercial and recreational fi shing and shellfi shing.Failure to reduceand then control nitrogen loads will result in replacement of highly productive eelgrass habitats with algae that smothers the bottoms of water bodies, reduces dissolved oxygen concentrations, causes fi sh kills, and widespread occurrence of unpleasant odors and scum.These environmental impacts greatly reduce commercial and recreational use of our bays and coastal waters.The Federal Clean Water Act mandates that we clean up this form of pollution of our waterways.The MassachusettsDEP and EPA have issued mandates for the amount of nitrogen that must be removed from each of Chathams embayments and salt ponds.The Town recently completed a town-wide Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (available on the Towns website) that details the problems, evaluates alternatives, and recommends a cost-eff ective, environmentally sound solution.Increasing sewered areas plus expanded centralized treatment capacity are the bestMalfunctioning septic ways to eliminate nitrogen currently coming from septic systems and phosphorus fromsystems means no shell sh for dinner household waste.Citizens are being asked to support Chatham plans to implementtonight.those remedies to save our waterways from excessive nutrient pollution.Friends of Chatham Waterways encourages you to volunteer with Chatham Water Watchers (P.O. Box 472, Chatham MA 02633).Page 28 bluepages.indd 28 8/26/2009 1:50:34 PM'