septic systems

It doesn’t matter if your camp was built in 1919 or 2007, there is one thing we all have in common... a septic system. Naturally, living on the shoreline, so close to Sylvia Lake, the quality and efficiency of our septic systems is critical... not only for our comfort and convenience, but for the health and well being of the water.

If you are planning a building project, the Sylvia Lake Association Board encourages you to assess your current waste water system to ensure that it can handle new showers, dishwashers etc. Untreated sewage contains disease-causing bacteria and viruses, as well as unhealthy amounts of nitrate and other chemicals. Failed septic systems can allow untreated sewage to seep into wells, groundwater and Sylvia’s surface water.

  • If you are having a large crowd or family reunion, consider renting portable toilets.
  • Conserve water to reduce amount of wastewater disposed of by your system. Do laundry over several days.
  • Do not use separate pipes to a side ditch. Gray water contains bacteria. Germs can wind their way to the lake or seep into the groundwater.
  • Have your septic tank inspected regularly.
  • Call your county health department when you experience problems or if there are any signs of failure.
  • Keep detailed records.
  • Don’t use septic tank additives. They can cause your drain fields to clog.
  • Limit the use of garbage disposals.
  • Don’t plant anything over the drain field with an extensive root system.
  • Don’t drive over your tank and drain field.


We had our septic tank pumped today. It had been four years since it was installed. City gals, we didn't know how long we should wait. Yesterday, Lea came in and said, "I want to move the woodpile over the septic tank. So I've uncovered it. Call a pumper." Sure enough. When I went out, she had been digging.

She unearthed one of the access covers. But was it the right one? I called Catherine Siematkowski, of Witherbee and Whalen, Inc., to verify and then called Williamson Septic Service. He would come the very next day. And he did.

Although we had heard we shouldn't use a product like Rid-X (see above) Gary Williamson said because our tank doesn't get year-round use, bacteria don't get to do their work as efficiently. Gary said we should be using a bacteria additive to kick start the processing.

If you have questions about your septic system, an excellent resource is David Lockwood. He has researched the regulations, laws and systems associated with protecting the lake and ground water.


Myrna Barney, at the St. Lawrence County Public Health Sanitation (315-386-1040)


Gary Williamson - 644-4000
Langevin Excavation - 848-3358
Gleason Septic Service - 773-4135


Witherbee and Whalen, Inc.
Precast Concrete Products



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