Key Findings of Failing Septics Detection Research

Saving money and improving water quality were the main drivers of this project.
Huron River Watershed Council failing septics MDEQ research

Collapse of a residential septic system tank. photo credit: Washtenaw County

Could the project team use an innovative approach to detect at-risk failing septics and provide a cost-effective approach for resource-limited county health departments?

The project overall determined that using aerial image analysis to identify at-risk properties is a viable approach when coupled with strong supporting data such as installation permit records and and/or time of sale inspections and recommendations.

The method requires refinement, including improved supporting data and more information on how failing systems are revealed by impacts to surrounding property. Future work could look at changes over time to properties with septic systems in order to identify failures.

With only 20 percent of homeowners in the study completing the evaluation survey, the project team is left to ponder whether the majority of septic owners would respond accordingly if reliable information revealed their septic system to be at-risk.

For further reading on the method and findings:

Newsletter article from Winter 2013 Huron River Report “Identifying Failing Septics – a new approach”

Project Fact Sheet  to the funder summarizing the project

Presentation “Reading the Signature of At-Risk Septic Systems” from the U.S. EPA’s 2013 National Nonpoint Source Monitoring Conference, Cleveland, Ohio

* all downloads are in PDF format

Huron River Watershed Council septics

Likely not up to code




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