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S.T.E.P. Information

Especially for homeowners who are users of the
STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pumping) SYSTEM.

In a continuing effort to keep our citizens and utility customers informed about services available from the Town of South Prairie, we have prepared this handout especially for homeowners who are users of the STEP System.

The STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pumping) System is a part of our sewage system designed for your particular area, and it is important that you have a basic understanding of how the system operates.

The STEP System has distinct characteristics, as follows: smaller pipes made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) can be used; the pipe does not have to be laid as deeply in the ground as the conventional gravity system; intrusion by sand and ground water is virtually eliminated; manholes are not required; and the system allows freedom in site layout of new developments.

The system will be owned and operated by the Town. Electrical service is provided from the house panel. The on-lot equipment consists of the pretreatment tank, pump, control panel and miscellaneous appurtenances.

To help you understand how the STEP System operates, we have included three (3) diagrams and several typical questions often asked about the system.

"Diagram A" shows the typical lot arrangement. The Town of South Prairie will work with your builder in determining the best location for the STEP tank and control panel.

For new construction it will be the owner's responsibility to install the STEP equipment. Specifications are available at Town Hall. All homeowners are responsible to supply electrical power to the control panel. The control panel shall be supplied by a 115 volt, single phase, 20 amp circuit which, in most cases, will be direct from the house's main electrical distribution panel.

On the control panel, located on the side of your house, you will notice there is a red light, see "Diagram B". The red light is part of an audio-visual high water alarm. Should the STEP System malfunction, the red light will come on and an audible alarm will sound. If this happens, you should press the audible alarm silence button (red light) located at the bottom of the panel, and call the Town immediately. The phone number for the Town Sewer Department is (360) 897-8969.
"Diagram C" shows a tank similar to the one used in the Town's system. Wastewater from the house travels through a pipe into the STEP tank. In the tank, the wastewater is treated anaerobically. When the liquid level in the tank reaches the proper height, the control system turns on the pump which pumps a set volume of liquid out of the tank through the service line to the pressure main, and on to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The following are typical questions asked by users of the STEP System:
What Is The STEP System?   Who Maintains The STEP System?   Will I Hear The Pump Run?
What happens if there is a power failure?   Pumping The STEP Tank When Selling Your Property.    
DO Call (360) 897-8969 whenever the alarm comes on.
It sounds like a smoke alarm. The audible alarm can be silenced by pushing the illuminated light located directly above the PUSH TO SILENCE label on the front of the electrical control panel. With normal use the tank has a reserve storage capacity good for approximately 24 hours.
DO Call the Town if your drains are running slow.
The problem may be in either the STEP tank or in your household plumbing. A Town representative will check and correct any problems in the pretreatment tank. If it is found to be in your household plumbing, you will be advised to call a plumber.
DO feel free to place a bird bath, potted plant or other yard decoration on the tank riser lid, as long as it can be readily removed for the sake of maintenance. Landscaping or permanent structures should be planned prior to installation in order to ensure that the integrity of the system is not jeopardized.
DO practice water conservation.
By reducing the amount of water going into your system, you can extend the life of the system and reduce the power consumption. A toilet float can hang up and result in over 2000 gallons per day of wasted water. Normal household usage ranges from 100 to 200 gallons per day. Use water-saving devices in the toilet tank, and don't flush unnecessarily.
DON'T connect rain gutters or storm drains or allow other surface water to get into the new pressure sewer.
This additional water will increase pumping costs, deplete the available capacity of the collection system and add needlessly to the daily volume of water the treatment facility has to process.
DON'T flush undesirable substances into the sewer.
DO NOT FLUSH flammable materials, plastics, cigarette butts, sanitary napkins, contraceptives, excessive grease, coffee grounds, excessive hair or garbage disposal waste.
DON'T use special additives that claim they will enhance the performance of your tank.
Additives DO NOT improve the performance of the septic tank and can cause major damage to your drainfield or other areas in the collection system. The natural micro-organisms and bacteria that form in your system are sufficient. They generate their own enzymes for breaking down and digesting nutrients.
DON'T enter your tank.
Any work to the tank should be done from the outside by authorized personnel. Gases that can be generated in the tank and/or the lack of oxygen can be fatal. Call your Town Sewer Department for assistance.

For any problems or questions regarding your STEP System, call the
South Prairie Town Hall (360) 897-8878.
You may also wish to take a tour of the Town's Wastewater
Treatment Plant.


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