DERRY — Town officials are urging residents to be "SepticSmart" and know the best ways to care for a septic system at a home.

September 16-20 is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's seventh annual "SepticSmart Week," and according to the EPA, more than one in five households in the nation, or 60 million people, depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater.

In New Hampshire, the NHDES says approximately two-thirds of all state homes are served by individual onsite septic systems, typically septic tanks and absorption fields that serve single-family residences.

SepticSmart Week is a nationwide initiative through the EPA to raise awareness about the need for proper care and maintenance of septic systems. Failure to properly maintain could lead to backups and overflows, and can result in costly repairs, polluted waterways and risks to public health and the environment. Proper care and maintenance are critical to septic system function and long-term performance.

Tips for the best septic maintenance include:

Inspecting the system every three years by a licensed contractor and have tank pumped when necessary, usually every three to five years.

Avoid pouring fats, grease and solids down the drain that could clog a system's pipes and drain field.

Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. No coffee grounds, dental floss, diapers, wipes or other hygiene products.

Being water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks, and install water efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day.

Reminding guests not to park or drive on a system's drain field, that could lead to damage to buried pipes or disruption of underground flow.

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