Seasonal Rains and Your Septic Field

Saturated ground can cause ponding around septic tank drain fields.

Saturated ground can cause ponding around septic fields. (

Rain, rain, and more rain. How is your septic field holding up?

Heavy, prolonged rain can have an impact on your septic system’s performance. Most of your septic system is sealed and is not affected by rain. The drain field, however, can become saturated. This can mean trouble for people who have a septic system.

If the ground where your septic field is located becomes so wet that it cannot hold any more water, your system may appear to be blocked. If this happens, the best thing to do is to reduce water use until things dry out.

Maintain your septic system and protect your septic field! (

Symptoms of a Flooded Septic System

If the soil in your septic field becomes too wet, water can’t soak in. When this happens, the dirty water may float to the surface and create an odor. As the condition worsens, water can back up into the tank. Eventually, because the water has nowhere else to go, it ends up in your plumbing. If this happens, you may notice these symptoms:

  • Slow draining
  • Poor toilet flushing
  • In extreme circumstances, overflow from floor and shower drains and even from toilets on the ground floor!
Protect your septic system with regular maintenance.

Protect your septic system with regular maintenance. (

Tips to reduce the amount of water flowing to your septic field

  • Only run full loads of laundry or in your dishwasher
  • Spread out the time between showers and using dishwashers and washing machines
  • Avoid taking baths
  • Use low flow toilets and water efficient shower heads
  • Make sure your sprinkler system is turned off during the rainy season

Keep Your System Clean and in Good Repair

Septic systems that are wearing out or leaking are a source of water contamination in Clackamas County. Regular maintenance of your system can help prevent an expensive problem in the future. It can also help keep our drinking water safe and clean.

Did you know that the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District offers a Septic System Loan Program?

Septic system repair or replacement can be expensive. Because of this, the repair may not always be within a homeowner’s budget. Our Residential Septic System Repair and Replacement Loan Program lets us to assist homeowners with costs that they may not otherwise be able to afford.

The District coordinates this loan program with funds provided by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. This is an exciting opportunity to help landowners protect water quality and address public health concerns.

Looking for Additional Information?

For details on our Septic System Loan Program, visit our Residential Septic System Repair and Replacement Loan Program web page or call us at 503-210-6000.

If you would like information regarding additional Septic System Financial Assistance for homeowners in the Clackamas River watershed, please contact our partners at Clackamas River Water Providers at 503-723-3510. Homeowners in the Molalla River watershed may contact Canby Utility or City of Molalla for possible assistance.

For technical assistance or questions about septic system permits, call Clackamas County Septic and Onsite Wastewater Systems at 503-742-4740.


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Clackamas SWCD