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

Withers, P.J.A., Jordan, P., May, L., Jarvie, H.P. and Deal, N.E. (2014) Do septic tank systems pose a hidden threat to water quality? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12 (2). pp. 123-130. [Journal article]

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DOI: doi:10.1890/130131

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.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Geography and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Environmental Sciences Research Institute
Environmental Sciences Research Institute > Freshwater Sciences
ID Code:27218
Deposited By: Professor Phil Jordan
Deposited On:27 Nov 2013 13:37
Last Modified:08 Mar 2014 14:50

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