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Water Usage

OSSMS are only designed to process up to a specific volume of water. Using too much water can lead to a premature failure of the absorption field. Please see the following chart for maximum, as well as recommended, water usage.

Number of






Vol. - design max. per month in thousands (k) of gallons

4 . 5 k

9 k

13 . 5 k

18 k

22 . 5 k

Vol. - recommended max. per month in thousands (k) of gallons

3 k

6 k

9 k

12 k

15 k

If you are connected to the public water supply, you can determine the amount of water you use per month simply by looking at the bill you receive from the Clayton County Water Authority.

Or, if you are on a private well, you can have a meter installed so that you will be able to easily determine this volume.

Appliances and Fixtures

As technological advances continue, fixtures and appliances are being developed which use less water. Additionally, failing to maintain your existing fixtures can result in excess wastewater generation which can needlessly increase your water bill, and also contribute to an early OSSMS failure.

Leaking Faucets - if you have a leaking shower or sink faucet this could be adding hundreds of gallons of extra water into your OSSMS. This added burden could end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. Fixing these problems early is extremely important. For guidance on how to read your water meter and determine if you have a leak, the Clayton County Water Authority has dedicated a portion of their site specifically to this matter. (http://www.ccwa.us/how-to-read-your-meter)

Leaking Commodes - commodes that spontaneously add water to the tank periodically have a leak. A simple test can tell you if your commode is leaking. Put food coloring in the tank of the commode and wait approximately 20 minutes (without flushing the commode). If the coloring seeps into the bowl of the commode, a leak is present.

Older Fixtures - older shower and sink fixtures allow a greater amount of water to pass through them. Newer fixtures reduce this amount down to 2.2 gallons per minute or even less. This reduction in water usage may extend the life expectancy of your absorption field for many years.

Older Commodes - older commodes use a much greater volume of water per flush than newer commodes … 3.5 to 8.0 gallons per flush. By installing a new low flow commode … 1.6 to 1.28 gallons per flush, you can keep hundreds of gallons of water out of your OSSMS each and every year. The Clayton County Water Authority has been partnering with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District to provide the Residential Toilet Rebate Program. Please see their Web site for more details on how you can save money by installing these new low flow commodes: http://www.ccwa.us.

Dishwashers and Washing Machines - Eventually, everything wears out. When this occurs, investing in a dishwasher or washing machine which reduces water consumption by 35% to 50% can save a traditional household thousands of gallons of water per year, which can significantly reduce your water bill and extend the life expectancy of your OSSMS.

Water Usage Habits

Simply changing a household's water usage habits can prolog the life expectancy of the absorption field.

One way to prevent the OSSMS from being overwhelmed by the volume of wastewater introduced is to spread out the wastewater producing activities. For example: If the household washes seven (7) loads of laundry per week, wash one load each evening rather than all seven (7) loads in one day. Spreading this large volume of wastewater throughout the entire week can prevent the system from being overwhelmed.

In conjunction with spreading the wastewater producing activities throughout the week is to spread them throughout the day. Most traditional households use water in the morning for bathing and then again in the evening for washing dishes and laundry. This can actually be beneficial. The wastewater that is generated in the morning will have all day to disperse underground. Then, wastewater generated in the evening will have all night to disperse. This should allow oxygen to enter the absorption field during these breaks in use, which will slow the formation of the biomat.

Failing to turn off the water while brushing teeth, or shaving, can result in large volumes of water being needlessly sent to the OSSMS.

Failing to insulate hot water pipes will result in having to run the water for a longer period before hot water actually reaches the faucet. This can result in large volumes of water being needlessly sent to the OSSMS.

For more information on water conservation, visit the Conserve Water Georgia Web site.


Clayton County Board of Health
Office of Environmental Health Services

1 Crown Center 1895 Phoenix Blvd, Suite 350 College Park, GA 30349
Phone: (678) 610-7469   Fax: (770) 603-4874