Do septic tank systems pose a hidden threat to water quality?

P.J.A. Withers, P. Jordan, L. May, H.P. Jarvie, N.E. Deal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aquatic ecosystems are being degraded by anthropogenic pollution on a global scale. Septic tank systems (STS), which are widely distributed in rural and peri-urban areas, are one potential source of water pollution. Although generally regarded as the most efficient method for on-site treatment of domestic wastewater, we question whether current regulation and management of these systems are sufficient to guarantee that they function effectively. Here, we present watershed-specific examples that illustrate some of the problems that arise when many years of inadequate regulation and management result in a legacy of failing STS that can become long-term, chronic sources of nutrient pollution. Our data suggest that more accurate accounting of the location, performance, and degree of failure of STS, and more research into their impacts on water quality, would improve sourceattribution of pollutants within rural watersheds. This would ensure that education of homeowners, mitigation, interdisciplinary research, and technological innovation could be targeted in a cost-effective way.
LanguageEnglish
Pages123-130
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Fingerprint

water quality
watershed
periurban area
pollution
homeowner
water pollution
aquatic ecosystem
mitigation
innovation
education
wastewater
pollutant
nutrient
cost
septic tank
regulation
method
interdisciplinary research

Cite this

Withers, P.J.A. ; Jordan, P. ; May, L. ; Jarvie, H.P. ; Deal, N.E. / Do septic tank systems pose a hidden threat to water quality?. In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 2014 ; Vol. 12, No. 2. pp. 123-130.
@article{809fba05222e4f46a2f44165d1946713,
title = "Do septic tank systems pose a hidden threat to water quality?",
abstract = "Aquatic ecosystems are being degraded by anthropogenic pollution on a global scale. Septic tank systems (STS), which are widely distributed in rural and peri-urban areas, are one potential source of water pollution. Although generally regarded as the most efficient method for on-site treatment of domestic wastewater, we question whether current regulation and management of these systems are sufficient to guarantee that they function effectively. Here, we present watershed-specific examples that illustrate some of the problems that arise when many years of inadequate regulation and management result in a legacy of failing STS that can become long-term, chronic sources of nutrient pollution. Our data suggest that more accurate accounting of the location, performance, and degree of failure of STS, and more research into their impacts on water quality, would improve sourceattribution of pollutants within rural watersheds. This would ensure that education of homeowners, mitigation, interdisciplinary research, and technological innovation could be targeted in a cost-effective way.",
author = "P.J.A. Withers and P. Jordan and L. May and H.P. Jarvie and N.E. Deal",
year = "2014",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1890/130131",
language = "English",
volume = "12",
pages = "123--130",
journal = "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment",
issn = "1540-9295",
number = "2",

}

Do septic tank systems pose a hidden threat to water quality? / Withers, P.J.A.; Jordan, P.; May, L.; Jarvie, H.P.; Deal, N.E.

In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 12, No. 2, 03.2014, p. 123-130.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do septic tank systems pose a hidden threat to water quality?

AU - Withers, P.J.A.

AU - Jordan, P.

AU - May, L.

AU - Jarvie, H.P.

AU - Deal, N.E.

PY - 2014/3

Y1 - 2014/3

N2 - Aquatic ecosystems are being degraded by anthropogenic pollution on a global scale. Septic tank systems (STS), which are widely distributed in rural and peri-urban areas, are one potential source of water pollution. Although generally regarded as the most efficient method for on-site treatment of domestic wastewater, we question whether current regulation and management of these systems are sufficient to guarantee that they function effectively. Here, we present watershed-specific examples that illustrate some of the problems that arise when many years of inadequate regulation and management result in a legacy of failing STS that can become long-term, chronic sources of nutrient pollution. Our data suggest that more accurate accounting of the location, performance, and degree of failure of STS, and more research into their impacts on water quality, would improve sourceattribution of pollutants within rural watersheds. This would ensure that education of homeowners, mitigation, interdisciplinary research, and technological innovation could be targeted in a cost-effective way.

AB - Aquatic ecosystems are being degraded by anthropogenic pollution on a global scale. Septic tank systems (STS), which are widely distributed in rural and peri-urban areas, are one potential source of water pollution. Although generally regarded as the most efficient method for on-site treatment of domestic wastewater, we question whether current regulation and management of these systems are sufficient to guarantee that they function effectively. Here, we present watershed-specific examples that illustrate some of the problems that arise when many years of inadequate regulation and management result in a legacy of failing STS that can become long-term, chronic sources of nutrient pollution. Our data suggest that more accurate accounting of the location, performance, and degree of failure of STS, and more research into their impacts on water quality, would improve sourceattribution of pollutants within rural watersheds. This would ensure that education of homeowners, mitigation, interdisciplinary research, and technological innovation could be targeted in a cost-effective way.

U2 - 10.1890/130131

DO - 10.1890/130131

M3 - Article

VL - 12

SP - 123

EP - 130

JO - Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

T2 - Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

JF - Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

SN - 1540-9295

IS - 2

ER -