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This document identifies the common contaminants found in onsite septic systems.
We discusses further the principal nitrogen contaminants produced by septic systems or on-site waste disposal systems.
This article discusses nitrogen and nitrate contaminants and links to sister documents discussing septic tank pathogens and other contaminants
as well as to discussions of what to do about sewage backups in buildings and how to inspect and repair a septic system after flooding.
We include discussion of health or other concerns with soil and groundwater contamination and with measures adopted to address these problems.
The photo above shows what dirt and sewage effluent may look like in a yard where the sewer line between the house and septic tank
is damaged and leaking. Nitrates, nitrites, and sewage pathogens leaking from a septic system to the soil surface and subsoil waters are potential health hazards.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
What are the Common Septic Tank & Onsite Septic System Contaminants & Pathogens?
Watch out: sewage spills contain contaminants that can cause serious illness or disease. Disease causing agents in raw sewage include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses and can cause serious illnesses including bacterial infections, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Leptospirosis, infections by Cryptosporidium & Giardia and gastrointestinal diseases.
For a detailed list of the pathogens found in common household wastewater such as a septic tank and drainfield, see also our discussion of pathogens in sewage at SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE: what makes up the contents of residential sewage? Stated more simply, and according to various sources such as the Utah DEQ
"The major contaminant discharged from septic systems is disease-causing
germs. These germs (bacteria and viruses) - can cause many human diseases.
discharged from septic systems is nitrogen in the form of nitrate. If the nitrate level of drinking
water is too high, infants, up to the age of six months old, can develop a fatal disease called blue baby syndrome (methemoglobenemia).
Additionally, if toxic chemicals are disposed in a septic system, they can percolate through the drainfield and into the ground water."
Three Levels of Basic Septic System Treatment to Reduce Discharge of Contaminants to the Environment
Initial wastewater sewage treatment occurs in the holding tank (or septic tank) where solids and some greases are separated for later removal by a septic cleaning or pumping contractor. These contaminants must be hauled to an approved disposal site and are regulated.
The second phase of onsite waste treatment which also may occur in the holding tank or to some degree in soils of the absorption bed, is the removal of dissolved or emulsified contaminants.
The third and final phase of onsite waste treatment is the processing of pathogens in the clarified effluent.
At onsite waste systems (private septic systems using, for example, a leach field), liquid waste leaving the absorption bed seeps into the ground where it should be processed by a biomass of bacteria whose purpose is
to digest certain pathogens, leaving the remaining effluent sufficiently sanitary as to not be considered a groundwater contaminant.
Septic System Operating Defects Prevent Successful Treatment of Sewage Contaminants
Not only are there defects which prevent adequate biomass treatment - thus releasing contaminated effluent into local soils, streams, and possibly wells,
but further, as this water passes through local soils it may pick or contain up other contaminants not adequately processed by the biomass.
Of these nitrogen (discussed first below) is a major concern. Other contaminants that may be conveyed to nearby streams or wells includes soil particles, heavy metals, organic compounds, animal waste, and, if the system is in a more urban area, potentially oil and grease.
This article collects and discusses various contaminants that can be expected to escape the third phase of septic treatment just named. Separately we discuss the causes of septic system failure and their remedy. See More Information below.
NITROGEN CONTAMINATION: nitrogen discharge from sewage treatment plants
New York -- January 11, 2006. New York City will spend more than $700 million on advanced water treatment systems to help restore Long Island Sound's water quality by upgrading
municipal sewage treatment plants over the coming decade in order to reduce the discharge of nitrogen.
Nitrogen in treated sewage effluent causes a number
of problems including excessive algae growth, reduced oxygen in water, and the death of fish, shellfish, and plants. The project will address Jamaica Bay and
other water systems in the area. -- New York Times, page B4, 1/11/2006.
NITROGEN REFERENCES - Nitrogen Contaminants in Sewage - Reference List & Excerpts
That nitrogen release is a worldwide concern is evident from these example reports on nitrogen and sewage treatment.
"There is consensus that the water clarity and coral reefs of Eilat are deteriorating. The widely suggested explanation
for the degradation is that Eilat waters are suffering from sustained inputs of organic carbon and nutrients.
International Expert Team (IET) was tasked to identify existing and potential sources of pollution; assess the carrying
capacity of the Gulf for fish-farming; and formulate recommendations for minimization of pollution and environmental
pressures. The IET considered 10 factors contributing to pollution in the Gulf: phosphate dust, sewage, fish-farms,
groundwater inputs, siltation, marina activities, oil, tourist diving activities, water temperature, and port-ballast
The IET recognizes that there have been multiple stressors on the coral reefs of Eilat over the past 25 years,
and these are discussed and ranked in the report. Presently, environmental pressures include: 1) continued inputs of
nutrients from Aqaba phosphate dust, Aqaba sewage, and fish farms; 2) siltation from construction; 3) diving activities
and, perhaps, 4) increased water temperature."
In the past 25 years, total nitrogen in the water of the northern Gulf appears to have doubled, but varies seasonally.
The large seasonal fluctuations are approximately equivalent to all the nitrogen input from fish-farms over the last 10
years and one-fourth of all the nitrogen input from sewage over the last 30 years;..."
"Abstract Due to the lack of agricultural water resources and the continuously increasing volume of sewage discharging
all over the country, sewage has already become an important water resources for agriculture irrigation in the suburbs
near many big cities in the North.In 1991 sewage irrigation area has reached 3 million hectares about 6%of the total
On the one hand, sewage irrigation alleviates agricultural water shortage, and on the other hand, it reduces
the harmful impact on water environment by discharging sewage. However,three big problems on sewage irrigation have been
existing for many years. They are the low water quality, the blind development on irrigation area and the backward research
Thus, the sewage irrigation has become one of the three sources of water environment worsening in the
village.It has been jeopardizing not only the quality of food and drinking water in the irrigation area, but also the food
safety of 1.6 billion populations until the 21 st century.The following suggestions and countermeasures are provided in
Reader Question: what are the risks of human infection by parasites traced to a septic system drainfield or soakaway bed?
My question is whether any of the microscopic larvae that is in the toilet water or effluent? will find their way to the leach field. By doing so, they hatch within 1-2 days, mature into the infective stage within a week and last for 3-5 months in the infective stage. Anyone who's skin comes into contact with this larvae will in turn get the hookworms.
There are two types and one of them can be transferred by ingestion or drinking contaminated water. Which brings me to the next question, and that is, can these larvae somehow infect the water source for a well. Would normal weather changes such as melting snow, flooding, heavy rains bring them down into the water source.
- Dr. M.K., 4/17/2013
Reply: Risk of parasitic infection from human passage over proprly-working septic system drainfields
I interpret "microscopic larvae" to mean parasites of various forms. In sum, references cited below generally emphasize illnesses ascribed to drinking water contamination from sewage, or illnesses ascribed to direct contact with untreated sewage, say from a sewage backup into a building, area flooding and storms, or a septic tank backup and spill onto an outdoor yard area. It may also be pertinent to note that there are ample opportunities for parsasites borne by animals other than human to find their way to the ground surface in outdoor areas.
Significantly, Robertson (1999) reported on this question as follows:
Some research indicates that some sewage treatment processes may result in relatively high removal efficiencies of some intestinal protozoa, whereas other data indicate that the concentration of cysts and oocysts discharged in sewage effluent may be in the order of several thousand per litre.
Note that the authors are discussing contamination sewage effluent, not the level of pathogens that might be found on the ground surface. In the case of a properly working septic system (not discharging effluent to the surface) or a properly functioning aerobic septic system that discharges highly-treated, disinfected effluent directly to the ground surface one would expect the presence of these pathogens to be much lower - at a lefel accepted by a public health department as safe for the public.
Taylor (1981) performed research suggesting that the principal pathogenic risk is in drinking water contamination not a person's passing over dry ground over a working drainfield.
If there is a specific illness, parasite, and issue with which you are concerned, it would be important to tell me what that parasite and illness are, and how people believe it was contracted. As you'll see even in the mere abstracts above, parasites protected by their existence in cyst or oocyst form are difficult to kill - a problem reflected in our discussion of emergency and regular water purification system choices.
Repeating what I said to you by telephone, you will not be likely to find general public health warnings to people to not walk across septic system drainfields provided the septic system is working properly - in particular, that there is no sewage or effluent breakout to the ground surface, though there are studies reporting such effects including the NRC (1993) cited in turn by Grimes et als (undated).
You might want to see the citations I give below in response to research on parasites in septic drainfields, parasites in septic systems, parasites in sewage, as well as our own articles and their individual citations at
References & research citations on the risk of parasitic infection from passage over working septic system drainfields
Butler, David, and Stephen R. Smith. "Septic Tank Systems." Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology. 2003
in Wiley's online library where even the abstracts are kept secret. Buy the book to see if it contains anything helpful.
Some more useful pertinent citations discussing parasites in sewage and septic effluent include
Grimes, Jeff, Vicki Murillo, Preeti Pradhan-Karnik, Matt Rota, and Casey deMoss Roberts. "OUR WATER, OUR HEALTH." agrees that the principal risk is in untreated sewage (say a septic tank backing up onto the ground surface) "Parasites can be transmitted through contaminated drinking water or exposure
to untreated sewage and sewage sludge." and bases that assertion on the NRC publication cited below
Karanis, Panagiotis, Christina Kourenti, and Huw Smith. "Waterborne transmission of protozoan parasites: a worldwide review of outbreaks and lessons learnt." Journal of Water and Health 5, no. 1 (2007): 1-38.
At least 325 water-associated outbreaks of parasitic protozoan disease have been reported. North American and European outbreaks accounted for 93% of all reports and nearly two-thirds of outbreaks occurred in North America. Over 30% of all outbreaks were documented from Europe, with the UK accounting for 24% of outbreaks, worldwide.
Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium parvum account for the majority of outbreaks (132; 40.6% and 165; 50.8%, respectively), Entamoeba histolytica and Cyclospora cayetanensis have been the aetiological agents in nine (2.8%) and six (1.8%) outbreaks, respectively, while Toxoplasma gondii and Isospora belli have been responsible for three outbreaks each (0.9%) and Blastocystis hominis for two outbreaks (0.6%).
Balantidium coli, the microsporidia, Acanthamoeba and Naegleria fowleri were responsible for one outbreak, each (0.3%). Their presence in aquatic ecosystems makes it imperative to develop prevention strategies for water and food safety. Human incidence and prevalence-based studies provide baseline data against which risk factors associated with waterborne and foodborne transmission can be identified.
Standardized methods are required to maximize public health surveillance, while reporting lessons learned from outbreaks will provide better insight into the public health impact of waterborne pathogenic protozoa.
Lipp, Erin K., Samuel A. Farrah, and Joan B. Rose. "Assessment and impact of microbial fecal pollution and human enteric pathogens in a coastal community." Marine Pollution Bulletin 42, no. 4 (2001): 286-293.
The goals of this study were to assess watersheds impacted by high densities of OSDS (onsite sewage disposal systems) for evidence of fecal contamination and evaluate the occurrence of human pathogens in coastal waters off west Florida. Eleven stations (representing six watersheds) were intensively sampled for microbial indicators of fecal pollution (fecal coliform bacteria, enterococci, Clostridium perfringens and coliphage) and the human enteric pathogens, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and enteroviruses during the summer rainy season (May–September 1996).
Levels of all indicators ranged between <5 and >4000 CFU/100 ml. Cryptosporidium and Giardia were detected infrequently (6.8% and 2.3% of samples tested positive, respectively). Conversely, infectious enteroviruses were detected at low levels in 5 of the 6 watersheds sampled. Using cluster analysis, sites were grouped into two categories, high and low risks, based on combined levels of indicators.
These results suggest that stations of highest pollution risk were located within areas of high OSDS densities. Furthermore, data indicate a subsurface transport of contaminated water to surface waters. The high prevalence of enteroviruses throughout the study area suggests a chronic pollution problem and potential risk to recreational swimmers in and around Sarasota Bay.
Snowdon, Jill Ann, D. O. Cliver, and J. C. Converse. "Human and animal wastes mixed for disposal to land: inactivation of viruses and parasites in a laboratory model." (1985).
Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas. Committee on Wastewater Management for Coastal Urban Areas, National Research Council. Washington DC: National Academies Press. 1993.
Robertson, L. J., P. G. Smith, A. T. Grimason, and H. V. Smith. "Removal and destruction of intestinal parasitic protozoans by sewage treatment processes." International Journal of Environmental Health Research 9, no. 2 (1999): 85-96.
This paper reviews the literature which addresses the occurrence of intestinal protozoan parasites in sewage as well as the removal and destruction of these pathogens in sewage treatment processes. The concentration of intestinal protozoa within sewage depends upon the catchment; the prevalence and intensity of human infection within the catchment; the contribution of animal waste to the sewage and the prevalence and intensity of animal infection within the catchment.
Some research indicates that some sewage treatment processes may result in relatively high removal efficiencies of some intestinal protozoa, whereas other data indicate that the concentration of cysts and oocysts discharged in sewage effluent may be in the order of several thousand per litre. For some protozoan parasites, such as Cyclospora, Microsporidia and Isospora, knowledge is scarce on the potential importance of sewage in their transmission and their likely removal and destruction by sewage treatment processes.
The ability of a septic system to handle parasites was also discussed two years earlier in Robertson (1997)
Robertson, John B., and Stephen C. Edberg. "Natural protection of spring and well drinking water against surface microbial contamination. I. Hydrogeological parameters." Critical reviews in microbiology 23, no. 2 (1997): 143-178.
The fate and transport of microbes in groundwater are controlled by physicochemical characteristics of the microbe and of the groundwater/aquifer media.
Key characteristics of the microbe include size, inactivation (die-off) rate, and surface electrostatic properties. Key properties of the groundwater/aquifer system include flow velocity, aquifer grain (or pore) size, porosity, solid organic carbon content, temperature, pH, and other chemical characteristics of water and mineral composition.
Because of size and surface electrical properties, viruses are much more mobile in groundwater than Cryptosporidium and Giardia (which are about 100 times or more larger than viruses). The inactivation or die-off rate is usually the most important factor governing how far microbes can migrate in significant numbers in groundwater.
Typical half-lives of microbes in groundwater range from a few hours to a few weeks. Examples of maximum reported migration distances of microbes in groundwater include: bacteria, 600 m in a sandy aquifer; viruses., 1000 to 1600 m in channeled limestones and 250 to 408 m in glacial silt-sand aquifers; Cryptosporidium and Giardia, no confirmed reports found of significant migration distances.
Investigations by the EPA have indicated that distances of 210 to 325 m away from septic tanks are necessary to achieve with high confidence an 11 order of magnitude reduction in virus concentrations.
Note again that the authors are talking about groundwater, not pathogens on the ground surface
Taylor, John W., G. William Gary, and Harry B. Greenberg. "Norwalk-related viral gastroenteritis due to contaminated drinking water." American journal of epidemiology 114, no. 4 (1981): 584-592.
Note that in this report illness was NOT caused by walking on a drainfield; there was direct water contamination of the water source from the septic system. Quoting "Drinking water was most likely contaminated by back-siphonage through a cross-connection between the school's well and septic tank. This contamination occurred approximately 24 to 36 hours before the outbreak developed.
Septic & Sewage Pathogens and Contaminants, References & Research Articles
Amahmid, O., Asmama, S., & Bouhoum, K. (1999). The effect of waste water reuse in irrigation on the contamination level of food crops by Giardia cysts and Ascaris eggs. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 49(1-2), 19-26.
Barak, J.D., Whitehand, L.C., & Charkowski, A.O. (2002). Differences in attachment of Salmonella enterica serovars and Escherichia coli O157:H7 to alfalfa sprouts. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68(10), 4758-4763.
Beuchat, L.R. (1996). Pathogenic microorganisms associated with fresh produce. Journal of Food Protection, 59(2), 204-216.
Castro-Rosas, J., & Escartin, E.F. (2000). Survival and growth of Vibrio cholerae O1, Salmonella typhi, and Escherichia coli O157:H7 in alfalfa sprouts. Journal of Food Science, 65(1), 162-165.
Charkowski, A.O., Barak, J.D., Sarreal, C.Z., & Mandrell, R.E. (2002). Growth and colonization patterns of Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli O157:H7 on alfalfa sprouts and the effects of sprouting temperature, i inoculum /in·oc·u·lum/ (-ok´u-lum) pl. inoc´ula material used in inoculation.
Evans, M.R., Ribeiro, C.D., & Salmon, R.L. (2003). Hazards of healthy living: Bottled water and salad vegetables as risk factors for Campylobacter infection. Emerging Infectious Disease, 9(10), 1219-1225.
Frost, J.A., McEvoy, M.B., Bentley, C.A., Andersson, Y., & Rowe, B. (1995). An outbreak of Shigella sonnei infection associated with consumption of iceberg. Emerging Infectious Disease, 1(1), 26-28.
Guo, X., Chen, J., Brackett, R.E., & Beuchat, L.R. (2001). Survival of Salmonellae on and in tomato plants from the time of inoculation at flowering and early stages of fruit development through fruit ripening,
said of meat. See curing. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 67(10), 4760-4764.
Guo, X., Chen, J., Brackett, R.E., & Beuchat, L.R. (2002). Survival of Salmonellae on tomatoes stored at high relative humidity, in soil, and on tomatoes in contact with soil. Journal of Food Protection, 65(2), 274-279.
Guo, X., Iersel, M.W.V., Chen, J., Brackett, R.E., & Beuchat, L.R. (2002). Evidence of association of salmonellae with tomato plants grown hydroponically in inoculated nutrient solution. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68(7), 3639-3643.
Itoh, Y., Sugita-Konishi, Y., Kasuga, E, Iwaki, M., Hara-Kudo, Y., Saito, N., Noguchi, Y, Konuma, H., & Kumagai, S. (1998) Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli enterohemorrhagic Escherichia EHEC Any of the E coli serotypes–eg O29, O39, O145 that produces shiga-like toxins, causing bloody inflammatory diarrhea, evoking a HUS. See Escherichia coli O157:H7, Hemolytic uremic syndrome. O157:H7 present in radish sprouts. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 64(4), 1532-1535.
Madden, J.M. (1992). Microbial pathogens in fresh produce--The regulatory perspective. Journal of Food Protection, 55, 821-823.
McMahon, M.A.S., & Wilson, I.G. (2001). The occurrence of enteric pathogens and Aeromonas species in organic vegetables. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 70(1-2),155-162.
Puohiniemi, R., Heiskanen, T., & Siitonen, A. (1997). Molecular epidemiology of two international sprout-borne Salmonella outbreaks. Journal of Clinical Microbiology
. 35(10), 2487-2491.
Shearer, A.E., Strapp, C.M., & Joerger, R.D. (2001). Evaluation of polymerase chain reaction-based system for detection of Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria spp., and Listeria monocytogenes on fresh fruit and vegetables. Journal of Food Protection, 64(6), 788-795.
Takeuchi, K., Hassan, A.N., & Frank, J.F. (2001). Penetration of Escherichia coli O157:H7 into lettuce as influenced by modified atmosphere and temperature. Journal of Food Protection, 64(11), 1820-1823.
Wright, C., Kominos, S.D., & Yee, R.B. (1976). Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa recovered from vegetable salads. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 31(3), 453-454.
"Bacterial Pathogens Recovered from Vegetables Irrigated by Wastewater in Morocco", Y. Karamoko, K. Ibenyassine, M. M. Ennaji, B. Anajjar, R. Ait Mhand, M. Chouibani, Journal of Environmental Health, June 2007.
The authors obtained 50 vegetable samples from various regions in Morocco and examined them to determine the micro biological quality of these products. Aerobic count, coliform, enterococci, and Staphylococcus areus were evaluated. This analysis revealed high levels of enterococci, fecal coliforms, and total coliforms. No coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureas was detected in any of the samples analyzed. Biochemical identification of Enterobacteriaceae showed the presence of Citrobacter freundii (28 percent), Enterobacter cloacae (27 percent), Escherichia coli (16 percent), Enterobacter sakazakii (12 percent), Klebsiella pneamoniae (17 percent), Serratia liquefaciens (11 percent), and Salmonella arizonae (0.7 percent).
The results clearly demonstrate that vegetables irrigated with untreated wastewater have a high level of microbiological contamination. Consequently, these vegetables may be a threat for the Moroccan consumer and may be considered a serious risk to Moroccan public health.ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR Copyright of Journal of Environmental Health is the property of National Environmental Health Association and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. CONTACT US to request a copy of this article stored as BacterialPathogens.pdf if you have difficulty obtaining a copy of this full article for private use.
Beuchat, L.R. (1996). Pathogenic microorganisms associated with
fresh produce. Journal of Food Protection, 59(2), 204-216.
Evans, M.R., Ribiero, CD., & Salmon, R.L. (2003). Hazards of
healthy Living: Boiled water and salad vegetables as risk Factors
For Campylobacter infection. Emerging Infectious Disease, 9(10),
Guo, X., Chen, j . , Brackett, R.E., & Beuchat. LR. (2001). Survival of Saimonellae on and in tomato plants From the time of inoculation at
flowering and early stages of fruit development through fruit ripening.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 67(10), 4760-4764
Madden, J.M. (1992). Microbial pathogens in fresh produce—The
regulatory perspective. Journal of Food Protection, 55, 821-823.
Shearer, A.E., Strapp, CM., & Joerger, R.D. (2001). Evaluation of
polymerase chain reaction-based system for detection of Salmonella
enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria spp., and Listeria monocytogenes on Fresh Fruit and vegetables. Journal of Food
Protection, 64(6), 788-795.
"Septic Tank/Drainfield System Fact Sheet", [PDF] Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, Source Protection Program - (801) 536-4200 Division of Water Quality - (801) 538-6146 Sonja Wallace, Pollution Prevention Coordinator - (801) 536-4477 Environmental Hotline - 1-800-458-0145 - Original source: http://www.drinkingwater.utah.gov/documents/spec_services/pollution_prevention_septic_tanks.pdf
New York State Wastewater Treatment Standards - Individual Household Systems, Appendix 75-A (1990),
Public Health Law 201(1)(1).
treatment systems, Bennette D. Burks & Mary Margaret Minnis. Textbook and reference manual on all aspects of onsite treatment. This is one of the best books we've reviewed on the subject, with an excellent balance of clear simple explanation and solid engineering. Topics: Soil & Site Selection, Hydraulics, System Selection & Design, Wastewater Biology, History & Mythology of Onsite Wastewater
Treatment. $49.95, Hogarth House, Ltd., 800-993-2665 x327 order a copy from the InspectApedia bookstore (Amazon.com) or order by telephone 800 -993-2665 x327 (Univ. Wisc. Bookstore)
Percolation Testing Manual, [PDF] CNMI Division of Environmental Quality, Gualo Rai, Saipan provides an excellent English Language manual guide for soil percolation testing. Original source: www.deq.gov.mp/artdoc/Sec6art108ID255.pdf
Soil Test Pit Preparation, [PDF] fact sheet, Oregon DEQ Department of Environmental Quality, original source www.deq.state.or.us/wq/pubs/factsheets/onsite/testpitprep.pdf The Oregon DEQ onsite water quality program can be contacted at 811 South Ave, Portland OR 97204, 800-452-4011 or see http://www.oregon.gov/DEQ/
Thanks to reader Michael Roth for technical link editing 6/29/09.
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-161, Septic System Failure: Diagnosis and Treatment
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-162, The Soil Media and the Percolation Test
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-l64, Mound Systems for Wastewater Treatment
Pennsylvania State Wastewater Treatment Fact Sheet SW-165, Septic Tank-Soil Absorption Systems
Document Sources used for this web page include but are not limited to: Agricultural Fact Sheet #SW-161 "Septic Tank Pumping," by Paul D. Robillard and
Kelli S. Martin. Penn State College of Agriculture - Cooperative Extension, edited and annotated by
Dan Friedman (Thanks: to Bob Mackey for proofreading the original source material.)
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Advanced Onsite Wastewater Systems Technologies, Anish R. Jantrania, Mark A. Gross. Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A., is a Consulting Engineer, in Mechanicsville VA, 804-550-0389 (2006). Outstanding technical reference especially on alternative septic system design alternatives. Written for designers and engineers, this book is not at all easy going for homeowners but is a text I recommend for professionals--DF.
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal, R. J. Perkins;
Quoting from Amazon: This practical book, co-published with the National Environmental Health Association,
describes the step-by-step procedures needed to avoid common pitfalls in septic system technology.
Valuable in matching the septic system to the site-specific conditions, this useful book will help you install a reliable system in
both suitable and difficult environments. Septic tank installers, planners, state and local regulators, civil and sanitary engineers,
consulting engineers, architects, homeowners, academics, and land developers will find this publication valuable.
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, Bennette D. Burks, Mary Margaret Minnis, Hogarth House 1994 - one of the best septic system books around, suffering a bit from small fonts and a weak index. While it contains some material more technical than needed by homeowners, Burks/Minnis book on onsite wastewater treatment systems a very useful reference for both property owners and septic system designers.
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf
Septic System Owner's Manual, Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, Julie Jones, Shelter Publications, 2000 $14.95 U.S. - easy to understand, well illustrated, one of the best practical references around on septic design basics including some advanced systems; a little short on safety and maintenance. Both new and used (low priced copies are available, and we think the authors are working on an updated edition--DF.
Quoting from one of several Amazon reviews: The basics of septic systems, from underground systems and failures to what the owner can do to promote and maintain a healthy system, is revealed in an excellent guide essential for any who reside on a septic system. Rural residents receive a primer on not only the basics; but how to conduct period inspections and what to do when things go wrong. History also figures into the fine coverage.
Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, Bombeck, Erma: $ 5.99; FAWCETT; MM;
This septic system classic whose title helps avoid intimidating readers new to septic systems, is available new or used at very low prices.
It's more entertainment than a serious "how to" book on septic systems design, maintenance, or repair. Not recommended -- DF.
US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm
Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook, R. Dodge Woodson. This book is in the upper price range, but is worth the cost for serious septic installers and designers.
Quoting Amazon: Each year, thousands upon thousands of Americans install water wells and septic systems on their properties. But with a maze of codes governing their use along with a host of design requirements that ensure their functionality where can someone turn for comprehensive, one-stop guidance? Enter the Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook from McGraw-Hill.
Written in language any property owner can understand yet detailed enough for professionals and technical students this easy-to-use volume delivers the latest techniques and code requirements for designing, building, rehabilitating, and maintaining private water wells and septic systems. Bolstered by a wealth of informative charts, tables, and illustrations, this book delivers:
* Current construction, maintenance, and repair methods
* New International Private Sewage Disposal Code
* Up-to-date standards from the American Water Works Association
Wells and Septic Systems, Alth, Max and Charlet, Rev. by S. Blackwell Duncan, $ 18.95; Tab Books 1992. We have found this text very useful for conventional well and septic systems design and maintenance --DF.
Quoting an Amazon description:Here's all the information you need to build a well or septic system yourself - and save a lot of time, money, and frustration. S. Blackwell Duncan has thoroughly revised and updated this second edition of Wells and Septic Systems to conform to current codes and requirements. He also has expanded this national bestseller to include new material on well and septic installation, water storage and distribution, water treatment, ecological considerations, and septic systems for problem building sites.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones