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Study asks: Is there an easier way to locate at-risk septic systems?

Huron River Watershed Council failing septics MDEQ research

Collapse of a residential septic system tank

Septic systems are essential to rural living.

Communities have standards for their design, construction, and, increasingly, maintenance. Yet, even with those standards, septic systems can fail. When a septic system fails, the polluted water it releases can pose a human health risk, an expensive repair and a water quality problem for groundwater, streams and lakes.

Over the past three years, HRWC led a team of researchers and public health managers in pursuit of a new approach to detect failed septic systems that may reduce pollutants entering the Huron River in Michigan and yield a cost-effective approach for county health departments to monitor and rectify problem septic systems. Pollutants from failing septic systems — pathogens and phosphorus — play a role in the health of the Huron River and its tributary streams located in rural areas.

In fact, one of the more perplexing questions about water pollution in this river has been “how much of a problem are failing septics?”

The overall project goals were to 1) reduce the quantity of phosphorus and bacteria entering the middle Huron River, and 2) develop a cost‐effective approach for monitoring and rectifying problems with septic systems for County Health Departments.

Learn more about the study design and our findings.


One Response to “Study asks: Is there an easier way to locate at-risk septic systems?”

  • To avoid expensive repairs on your home and clean up the environment at the same time, use the natural cleaners for septic system clogging, plumbing and water supply maintenance like the all-natural Advanced Formula Septic-Helper 2000 and Enza Drain Line Cleaner.

    In 2011 the EPA Total Maximum Load of Nitrates (TMDL) that states and counties must clean up their water supplies by 2017. It mandates new inspections on all septic systems, water wells and with funding, local waterways. A failed inspection would include a slow drain in your leach field, low septic tank bacteria levels or elevated Nitrate levels in your Water Well or local Water Supplies; could require replacement of your entire system for $10K to $100K+ or connect to the city sewer system for $5K to $50K. The new inspections are failing 12% of systems each year and 82% of those older than 1977.


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