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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Influence of Soils on Bacterial Contamination of a Watershed from Septic Sources1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 4 No. 2, p. 249-252
    Received: June 30, 1974

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  1. R. B. Reneau Jr.,
  2. J. H. Elder Jr.,
  3. D. E. Pettry and
  4. C. W. Weston2



Surface and perched ground waters collected from an 80-ha watershed were evaluated for bacteriological quality by enumeration of total and fecal coliform densities. This watershed is located at the western edge of the Coastal Plain Physiographic Province and the eastern edge of the Piedmont Plateau. Soils present have developed from both Piedmont and Coastal Plain materials. Analyses of surface waters from areas influenced by failing septic systems demonstrated a large range in total and fecal coliform densities. Sites not subjected to runoff from areas that contained failing septic systems had no detectable fecal coliform count in four of nine observations, whereas, in other sites where septic effluent was coming directly to the surface without passing through any soil material, the total and fecal coliform densities were in excess of 2.4 × 107/100 ml at some dates. Most of the surface waters in this watershed would not meet minimum recommendations for surface waters to be used for primary contact sports or public water supplies. Total and fecal coliform counts for subsurface samples generally decreased as a function of distance from the source of pollution.

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