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Onsite Septic Program

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BENTON COUNTY, Ore. — When looking at a business or home people probably aren’t thinking about its septic system; but if it’s not put in correctly, you could be in for a messy situation, not to mention one that could come with some illnesses.

The homes in a Benton County subdivision are beautiful and big; but before they were built, there were people like Rob Turkisher on a mission to make sure what’s below the surface and in this soil was safe.

“With a business or residential property when you build your house and move in you want a septic system that functions. You don’t want sewage running down your driveway or in your front yard,” said Rob Turkisher, Benton County Health Specialist.

Turkisher says he’s seen it all. The purpose of the septic tank is to allow separation of the solids from the sewage so the remaining liquid can be absorbed into the ground without clogging the soil.

“Some of the residential properties, sometimes a septic system will fail and an owner might put a straight pipe out into the creek where you have raw sewage just going into the waterway,” Turkisher said.

He’ll respond to those problems; but his top task, site and soil evaluation for both homes and businesses in Benton County.

He just evaluated and approved the expansion of G3 Sports & Fitness.

“So to have these systems that are full aerations, two stage septic systems lift stations and kind of the modern drain fields that are out there. They are vital they will shut us down if they don’t have adequate services,” Turkisher said. “After the solids settle out in the septic tank the pump kicks on and pumps the clear sewage here and it goes into the soil where it’s treated by. The bacteria and the viruses are treated in the soil.”

If a septic system fails Turkisher says they’ll put dyes in the system and if the drain field is failing, the dye will show up in the field.

“I have worked for coastal counties that have put green dye in a house and within 10 minutes the beech would turn green,” Turkisher said.

An even larger undertaking for Turkisher, testing at the subdivision.

“I evaluated the soils throughout the subdivision. I looked at about 40 test pits to find the best soils. We are trying to avoid drainage ways,” Turkisher said.

To get a better idea of the soil inspection we hiked along with Turkisher, to one of the 40 test pits for this subdivision. Each is five feet deep and he’s looking for the best drained soil where the septic system can work for decades.

“Sometimes we will meet the backhoe out here other times they will just did them in advance,” Turkisher said.

He looks at the soil to make sure it’s well drained.

“We will clean off a new face of the soil,” Turkisher said.

It’s a very unglamorous job at times.

“I usually get poison oak two or three times a year,” Turkisher said. “What I don’t want to do is misread these soils and somebody builds their dream house and within a month they got sewage in their front yard that’s disastrous for me.”

Thats why he’s very careful before issuing approval of these lots and he says he’s spent weeks here making sure it’s up to code.

“You definitely don’t want to have bacteria or viruses get into your well water and your drinking water you don’t want to contaminate your neighbors well, or your own for that matter, you don’t want untreated sewage on the ground,” Turkisher said.

Benton County recommends having your septic tank pumped every three to five years.

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