An Ozarks pumper proves you really can make a difference.
If there is one thing onsite professionals should do, it’s to educate people about how protecting their septic system investment helps the environment. A&A Septic Pumping Service has been doing its part in the Ozarks region of Missouri for many years, including as a member of the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance (LOWA).
Owner Bob Arnall says the Camdenton company joined the grassroots organization when it was formed in 2006 under the auspices of 18 local, state and federal agencies. “We’re just trying to help people out,” he says. “Trying to spread the word, keep our water clean and improve our environment."
Over the last four years, LOWA used a $74,000 state grant and plenty of volunteers to study water quality in the 92-mile long Lake of the Ozarks reservoir behind the Bagnell Dam. “The lake turned out healthy,” says Executive Director Donna Swall. “But we learned what stresses the lake and how we can implement practices to keep out stormwater, which is the number one culprit for bacteria in the lake.”
LOWA offered funding assistance of up to $5,000 toward things like low-impact landscaping and rain gardens. It also provided education about septic systems. “It used to be that people worked on their septic system when it broke,” says Arnall. “Now people realize that it costs thousands of dollars when it breaks, while $100 for a little maintenance gives them a system that works. We need all the education we can do when it comes to our environment. LOWA has taught people a lot.”
LOWA also helped people pay for septic tank pumping with Arnall sweetening the deal with discounts. Arnall gave everyone who attended a septic workshop in the last four years a $10 discount, with LOWA covering $35 toward the average $90 cost. About 150,000 gallons of septage was pumped over the four years. “By next summer when everyone comes back to the lake, we’ll have another program for pumpouts,” says Swall. “It’s something we just need to continue.”
In July 2014, A&A pumped all 62 septic tanks near one cove, many of them located right next to the seawall. In one week, 48,500 gallons of septage was pumped at a cost of $5,400 with A&A donating work worth nearly $3,000. “They’ve always gone above and beyond the call of duty and have done a very good and honest job,” says Swall.
Water tests of the cove before and after pumping showed a slight drop in bacteria. “You’re only going to see a little bit at a time,” says Arnall. “It’s not going to be ‘Bam, the waters are clean.’ We’re not superheroes.”
Arnall says he isn’t sure how much he has donated toward the cause, but whatever it’s been has been worth it. “We all have kids and grandkids and want them to have a great place to live.” Making sure people take care of their septic systems is one way of accomplishing that.