Potential for groundwater contamination from conventional septic systems

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University of New Brunswick


There are many area in New Brunswick which depend solely on on-site wastewater disposal systems. Although typically thought of in rural areas, septic systems are also very common in city areas where a municipal system is too far away or too costly to build. It is due to the fact that these systems are so common that this study was done. It is the habit of most people to forget about their system which leads to poor maintenance. This maintenance is the largest single problem associated with failed septic systems which can and often result in groundwater contamination. This contamination may not only affect the home with the failed system but could progress to^contaminated an aquifer and a community" s water supply. This study was done to determine the most likely characteristics that affect the groundwater within a septic system and then to use these findings to evaluate a site with a system in operation. This system is in a farm and rural area. It was determined that the system does indeed work but is in danger of potential problems. The soil conditions were determined to be undesirable from observation. The water conditions also appear to be undesirable as there is quite a large amount of water surrounding the area and large moist areas on and around the lot. Contrary to all the findings in the literature, this system should have failed. Not only do the conditions seem unfavourable, but the system has not yet been cleaned since the home was built eight years ago. A system of the size and people jshould be cleaned every three to four years. This leads to the belief that further analysis must be done. Testing was not done in this case and as such it is recommended. Overall it was noted that when systems are properly installed and maintained they service the people and the environment quite well.