Date of Original Version
Unanswered seasonal vacation communities present unique problems for on-site sewage disposal. Seasonal occupancy may promote the transmission of contaminants to groundwater due to incomplete formation of a biological clogging mat in the soil absorption system. Groundwater surrounding three seasonally-used septic systems was monitored to determine the movement and attenuation of nitrogen, phosphorus and two bacterial indicators of human fecal contamination, fecal coliforms and Clostridium perfringens. Nitrate-N concentrations were often three to four-fold greater than the drinking water standard at wells 6 m from the soil absorption systems. Minimal phosphorus migration occurred from these systems. Although more than 1.5 m of unsaturated soil separated the bottom of the soil absorption system from the groundwater, elevated numbers of both bacterial indicators were observed in groundwater at both 2 m and 6 m away from the absorption systems. Biological clogging mats, which are considered to be critical for even distribution of wastewater within a drainfield, were not ground when the systems were excavated at the end of summer occupancy. Siting seasonally-used shoreline septic systems may require improved effluent distribution to achieve wastewater renovation.
Postma, Frank B., Arthur J. Gold and George W. Loomis. (1992). Nutrient and microbial movement from seasonally-used septic systems. Journal of Environmental Health, 55(2), 5-10.