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Identifying septic tank effluent in groundwater; problems and possibilities


, : Identifying septic tank effluent in groundwater; problems and possibilities. Technical Publication - Department of Agricultural Microbiology 3(Pages 47-55

Elevated concentrations of the normal range of chemical determinants -- such as conductivity, chloride, ammonium-N, nitrite-N, nitrate-N, phosphate and indicator bacteria -- such as the coliform and faecal coliform groups and faecal streptococci -- do not necessarily indicate the presence of household septic tank leachate in groundwater samples. Other information is required to establish a satisfactory signature for human sewage. Possibilities include; household detergents, and certain washing powder constituents -- such as boron, sodium tripolyphosphate and fluorescent additives. The ratio of faecal coliforms to faecal streptococci may also assist, as may rudimentary biochemical characterization of the coliforms, faecal coliforms and faecal streptococci present in groundwater samples. Problems associated with each of these determinants are discussed and some preliminary results from a septic tank experiment at Burnham are presented.

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