Septic Leachate Surveys

Aquatic Analysts, Inc. can implement a septic management program designed to determine if contaminated groundwater caused by faulty septic systems is entering your lake.  We can also pinpoint which septic systems are responsible for excessive nutrient loading and if the septic carrying capacity of the lake is adequate.

AAI uses a septic leachate detector (Endeco Septic Snooper) to help locate, indirectly, potential sources of excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), bacteria and other substances that tend to lower water quality or increase the rate of lake eutrophication.  By detecting elevated electrical conductivity of the lake water and substances that fluoresce, the instrument alerts the operator to potential "hot spots" along the shoreline.  Household wastes (graywater) and sewage wastes contain substances that increase electrical conductivity (e.g., chlorides in wastes products) or that fluoresce (e.g., urine breakdown products and detergents).  Runoff from other cultural activities (e.g., road salt, plant fertilizers, pet and livestock wastes) can also cause these two variables to increase near the shoreline.  Detection by the instrument indicates a potential source of pollution, but does not identify the substances causing the elevated conductivity or fluorescence.

A water sample at the hot spot is collected for laboratory analysis of selected chemical and bacteriological variables.  Results of the analyses can help characterize the potential problem.  A water sample is also taken from the center of the lake as a control to compare with the shoreline hot spot samples.  If one or more of the measured variables from a hot spot is substantially greater than the corresponding variable(s) from the control sample, then there is an indication of a potential source input from the shoreline property.

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Revised: May 23, 2003