Whether it's a septic system or a sewer system, everything that goes down our drains eventually makes its way into our environment.

hand washing sinkManaging Wastewater

How we treat our wastewater (water that has been used in washing, flushing, manufacturing, etc.) directly affects the quality of water in the ground, in local waterways like streams and ponds, in our drinking water, and in Neponset River and Boston Harbor.

Whether our drains empty into a septic system in our backyard or connect to underground sewer pipes that carry our waste to a treatment facility, everything we pour down our drains eventually makes its way into our environment.

Reduce the negative impacts of residential wastewater on our waterways:

  • Replace harsh chemical cleaners with non-toxic, more environmentally-friendly products.
    • Follow the directions on cleaners and use only the recommended amounts.
  • Dispose of medication properly.  Never pour medicine down the sink or flush it down the toilet!  
    • To dispose of medication in your household trash:
      • Remove labels from containers.
      • Mix medicine (do not crush tablets or capsules) with dirt, kitty litter or used coffee grounds, and place in a sealed plastic bag before throwing away.
    • Find a medication collection program in your community:
      • Call your local pharmacy, hospital, fire or police department.  New federal regulations allow pharmacies and hospitals to collect old medicine. Many police and fire departments have disposal kiosks.
septic system diagram

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Maintain your septic system

Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby waterways.

Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns.  Learn how your septic system works to eliminate stormwater pollution, and to avoid costly clean outs and repairs.


Learn more:

The Sewer:  Where Your Waste Goes (MWRA)

All About Septic Systems (EPA)

Homebuyers Guide to Septic Systems (HIC)

Septic Systems, Explained (Suburban Property Inspections)

About Title 5 (MA Dept. of Environmental Protection)

Re-consider Your Chemical Use at Home (MWRA)