The Chesapeake Bay septic tank pump-out initiative is a state program that went into effect on August 1, 2008. Under this program, pump-out of septic tanks located in designated Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas is required at least once every five years. The local regulations for this program appear under Article 6 of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance.
Even the most efficient septic tank systems require routine pump-outs to maintain proper functioning. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends routine septic tank pump-outs every three to five years. Septic tanks need to be pumped out to remove the accumulated material and prevent problems that can lead to complete septic system failure. Routine septic tank pump-outs, along with proper management by the homeowner, can greatly extend the useful life of an on-site septic system.
The EPA estimates that 25 percent of all homes nationwide are served by on-site septic systems, with “most septic system failures related to inappropriate design and poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (with a leach or drain field) have been installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes or high ground water tables. These conditions can cause hydraulic failures and water resource contamination. Failure to perform routine maintenance, such as pumping the septic tank every three to five years, can cause solids in the tank to migrate into the drain field and clog the system.”