The Bartow County Environmental Health Department protects the public and the environment by providing septic tank permits and inspections according to State of Georgia Rules and Regulations. A septic system, properly designed and maintained, and properly installed where soil and site conditions are favorable, can be expected to function satisfactorily. Experience through the years has shown that adequate supervision, inspection and maintenance are required to insure compliance.

● How to obtain a permit for a septic tank
For more detail from the Bartow County Environmental Health Department on permits, supervision, compliance inspection and maintenance, go to (Office located in Cartersville Public Health Dept. Bldg.)

To report septic tank problems whether you rent or own, or to get information:
Call the Bartow County Environmental Health office at: 770-387-2614

■ Flush only human waste and toilet paper into septic tank. Don’t use toilets as trash cans.
■ Avoid flooding septic tank by fixing water leaks. Leaking toilets are a major cause of septic system failure.
■ Have your septic system inspected and pumped at least once every three to five years.
■ Avoid heavy grease and harsh chemicals.

Even a properly designed and installed septic system cannot treat wastewater if the tank is not used and maintained properly. Here are a few tips for installing and using your septic system:

  • Keep a record of pumping, inspection, and other maintenance; include company name, address and phone numbers.
  • To simplify tank access for inspection and maintenance, install a watertight concrete riser over the septic tank.
  • The area over the drainfield should be left undisturbed, with only a mowed grass cover. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs may clog and damage your drain lines.
  • Keep automobiles and heavy equipment off the septic tank and drainfield.
  • Do not plan any building additions, pools, driveways, or other construction work near the septic tank .
  • Do not put too much water into the system. Water overload occurs when the drainfield is flooded with more water than it can effectively absorb, reducing the ability of the system to drain wastes and filter sewage before it reaches groundwater. It also increases the risk that effluent will pool on the ground surface and run off into surface water or down nearby water well casings. Typical indoor water use is about 50 gallons per day for each person in the family. Water-saving devices such as low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, toilet dams or low-flow toilets can greatly reduce water flow into the system. Strategies such as taking short showers, spreading out laundry loads over the week and never allowing rain water from downspouts to enter the septic system will also help.
  • Do not flush non-biodegradable materials such as plastics, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins and applicators—they rapidly fill up the tank and will clog the system.
  • Restrict the use of your kitchen garbage disposal—it increases the amount of solids in the tank, making them slower to decompose.
  • Do not pour grease or cooking oils down the sink drain because they solidify and clog the soil absorption field.
  • Don’t allow paints, motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers or disinfectants to get into your septic system. They can pass directly through the septic system and contaminate groundwater. These chemicals can also kill the microorganisms which decompose wastes and can damage the soil in the drainfield.
  • Do not use caustic drain openers for a clogged drain. Instead use boiling water or a drain snake to free up clogs. Clean your toilet, sinks, shower and tubs with a mild detergent or baking soda rather than the stronger and potentially system-damaging commercial bathroom cleansers.


The frequency with which you will need to pump depends on three variables: the size of your tank, the number of people in the household contributing to the volume of your wastewater, and the volume of solids in your wastewater. If you are unsure about when to have the tank pumped, observe the yearly rate of solids accumulation in the septic tank. The solids should be pumped out of the septic tank by a licensed septic contractor. The accumulated solids in the bottom of the septic tank are to be pumped out every three to five years although if the tank is large and the household is small a tank can function longer without requiring pumping.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR SYSTEM IS FAILING: These symptoms tell you that you have a serious problem:

  • Sewage backup in your drains or toilets. This is often a black liquid with a disagreeable odor.
  • Slow flushing of your toilets. Many of the drains in your house will drain much slower than usual, despite the use of plungers or drain cleaning products.
  • Surface flow of wastewater. Sometimes you will notice liquid seeping along the surface of the ground near your system. It may or may not be much of an odor associated with surface flow.
  • Lush green grass over the absorption field, even during dry weather. Often, this indicates that an excessive amount of liquid from your system is moving up through the soil, instead of downward, as it should. While some upward movement of liquid from the absorption field is good, too much could indicate major problems.
  • The presence of nitrates or bacteria in your drinking water well. This indicates that liquid from the system may be flowing into the well through the ground or over the surface. Water tests available from your local health department will indicate if you have this problem.
  • Buildup of aquatic weeds or algae in lakes or ponds adjacent to your home. This may indicate that nutrient-rich septic system waste is leaching into the surface water. This may lead to both inconvenience and possible health problems.
  • Unpleasant odors around your house. Often, an improperly vented plumbing system or a failing septic system causes a buildup of disagreeable odors around the house.