Once-a-week gardening and horticulture webinars this summer have explored a wide range of topics from container gardening and FireWise landscaping, to making your own compost tea.

The next webinar is at 11 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 3 and focuses on a subject many Rim Country homeowners need to be familiar with: septic tank health.

A local expert, Gila County Wastewater Manager Jake Garrett, presents the program.

Septic tank health

What’s the worst that could happen? You can’t flush. Your septic system stops working… period.

Blocked pipes and/or an unhealthy septic system can cause a messy overflow when sewage backs up into your home or business or flows out onto the ground. Higher volume overflows contaminate surface water and ground.

Gila County’s Wastewater Manager Jake Garrett is among lead authors of a 15-page homeowner’s manual that’s available free as a download from gilacountyaz.gov or it can be picked up at Gila County Community Development offices in Payson and Globe. It is subtitled Septic Systems 101, How Your Septic System Works, How to Care For & Maintain It, Extend Its Useful Life, And Save You Money!

“Most of us are conscientious about the care and maintenance of our vehicles. Oil and filter changes plus other periodic inspections help protect the investment,” said Garrett.

“Similarly, our onsite wastewater system represents a significant part of the investment in our property. Be aware: a malfunctioning or inadequate septic system can negatively affect your property’s value… installing a new conventional septic system can cost from $8,000 — $10,000.”

What not to flush

Baby wipes, even those labeled as flushable; Q-Tips; cotton balls; cotton pads (menstrual products designed to absorb liquid expand when flushed). Other items commonly fished out of pipes by plumbers range from diapers and condoms to dental floss, cigarette butts, hair and gum.

Cat litter — even when its labeled as flushable, don’t do it. Toilets and pipes definitely aren’t designed for cat litter. Don’t flush any prescribed or over-the-counter medication. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause toxic environmental effects — and should be deposited at the local police department, not in the garbage or flushed.

Join Thursday’s webinar to learn more about what makes a septic system tick, how it does what it does and simple ways to preserve your investment and keep it working properly.

There is a growing audience for these informal online chats, arranged and moderated by Extension Agent Chris Jones, with University of Arizona’s Gila County Cooperative Extension. Convenient online links for each one-hour session are posted at extension.arizona.edu/gila, a website to bookmark as a favorite for updates and links to connect with Gila County Cooperative Extension for other programs, talks and resources for Rim Country gardeners.

Links are also conveniently posted each week on Facebook, where you can join a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at facebook.com/gilaextension. To be added to Jones’ invite list for future gardening and horticulture workshops, call 928-402-8586 or email ckjones@email.arizona.edu

Upcoming programs

• Sept. 10, Winter Gardening with Kim Stone

• Sept. 17, Payson’s new Fire Adaptive Community Plan Town Code with Kevin McCully

• Sept. 23, Arizona-South Korea Wood Fiber Renewable Energy Markets Research Report by Jim DiPasquale and Dr. Han Sup-Han

• Oct. 1, Bark beetles: identification and control with Alyssa McAlexander and Cori Dolan

• Oct. 8, How to plant a tree seedling by Jan Groth and Chris Jones

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