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  • 1.  Failing Onsite Septic Systems

    Posted 06-10-2022 04:30 PM
    I am seeking information on failing onsite septic systems.  Any suggestions on available research?

    This query is being posted for Catherine Flowers.

    Barbara Whitten A.M.ASCE
    Technical Manager
    Manassas VA

  • 2.  RE: Failing Onsite Septic Systems

    Posted 08-01-2022 10:02 AM
    Upon checking on google search "Failing Onsite Septic Systems Research" I found articles but I recommend the PDF files like the following:

    Frontiers in assessing septic systems vulnerability in coastal Georgia, USA
    The spatial relationship between septic system failure and environmental

    Hope they helps.
    How Climate Change Can Cause Septic System Failure and Whether ... - CORE
    Septic System Failure - UC ANR
    Failing Septic Systems in Mid-Michigan:
    HENV-502: Septic System Failure and Environmental Impacts

    Llala Chrishaye Ocampo Aff.M.ASCE
    City of General Trias Cavite

  • 3.  RE: Failing Onsite Septic Systems

    Posted 09-06-2022 07:57 PM
    I have done a research on related topic which unravels the negligence behind the design processes, infiltration of wastewater to groundwater table, zero concern to maintenance and a systematic approach to the design of onsite disposal system. 

    Ifeanyi N. Iburu S.M.ASCE
    Lagos LA

  • 4.  RE: Failing Onsite Septic Systems

    Posted 09-07-2022 03:17 PM
    Ms. Whitten:

    Is your inquiry about how the elements of the septic system fail (e.g., leach field) or instead about how this filtration process fails to ensure that household chemicals are not prevented from entering shallow groundwater?

    Principal Hydrogeologist
    Golden, Colorado

    Richard Hirsch P.G., M.ASCE
    Hirsch Gibney Inc
    Golden CO

  • 5.  RE: Failing Onsite Septic Systems

    Posted 09-07-2022 10:25 PM

    This is interesting, only from a personal perspective on my own septic system for my home....


    Sorry for the long story but I was having trouble with my septic system which started (actually stopped flowing out) filling up my septic tank after only a few weeks....

    This was occurring more often and I was blaming the runoff water coming from my street which I thought was flooding my yard, thus saturating to the point that no sewage water was getting out to my leach field....

    I build barricades to limit sheet flow coming into my yard as best I could, to no avail, my tank was still not flowing out....

    Actually after the 2nd pump out, I noticed water was flowing into my tank!


    I live out in the country (north Atlanta) and have two 6 in city water mains that run in my front yard, as well as a 24 in CMP that feeds a small stream next to my home....

    At first I thought the city's water mains were leaking....I had water flowing inside of the CMP that I saw flowing into the stream....I called the city and they were nice to test the water flowing into my stream, and this was during a time where it had not rained for over a month....at first the city said it may be an underground stream, but after testing the water, it showed definite chlorine as city water should have....

    The city came out again and crawled into the culvert for over a hundred feet but could not see where the water was coming in from....after that they came out several times with various testing equipment to see if they could find a leak before tearing up my lawn, which I appreciated....


    After pumping out my septic yet again, I told the tech that the water looked very clean coming into the tank....

    That's when the light turned on in my head and I turned off my water service for a day and went back out to check my stream & corrugated metal culvert which now had no water coming out of it....

    Thus after additional searching with Tempo Transmitter (of buried wiring used for sprinkler valves) I finally found that bad sprinkler line/valve  that had failed (unfortunately water was not coming to the surface) which was placing a significant load under my lawn, flooding my leach field which never gave it a chance to saturate into my surrounding soil....


    Sorry for the long story but sometimes it is a simple solution....all is well now since I repaired the leaking sprinkler line!  



    Richard Morales, M.Sc., P.E., F.ASCE

    Director of Engineering

    Fabricated Bridge Products

    m: 404.275.6430




  • 6.  RE: Failing Onsite Septic Systems

    Posted 09-07-2022 10:26 PM
    Hi Barbara/Catherine:

    I get the sense that you are just wading into the waters of on-site wastewater and treatment disposal.  There are a variety of Onsite septic systems designs and they can fail in a variety of ways.  So on the surface, your question is a little broad to provide specific resources to find information on failures.  But, I'd suggest that you start with the USEPA web page: https://www.epa.gov/septic/onsite-wastewater-treatment-and-disposal-systems. This site will provide you with some information that may help you narrow your question a little.  Then, we might be able to provide you with more focused response.

    I am just noticing the date of you original post.  Hopefully, you've been able to make progress on you research by now. But, if it is still useful, given the recent attention to your post, it is likely that you might be able to find some help here on this forum.

    Bart Clark, PE

    Bart Clark , PE
    Warren, CT