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Preliminary Study on the Effect of Wastewater Storage in Septic Tank on E. coli Concentration in Summer
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia Griffin Campus, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, GA 30223, USA
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia, 3111 Miller Plant Sciences Building, Athens, GA 30602, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 May 2013; in revised form: 5 July 2013 / Accepted: 19 July 2013 / Published: 26 July 2013
Abstract: On-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) work by first storing the wastewater in a septic tank before releasing it to soils for treatment that is generally effective and sustainable. However, it is not clear how the abundance of E. coli changes during its passage through the tank. In this study, which was conducted under the UGA young Scholar Program in summer of 2010, we examined the change in wastewater quality parameters during the passage of the wastewater through the tank and after its release into soil. We collected wastewater samples at the inlet and outlet of an experimental septic tank in addition to obtaining water samples from lysimeters below trenches where the drainpipes were buried. We report that E. coli concentration was higher by 100-fold in the septic tank effluent than influent wastewater samples, indicating the growth of E. coli inside the tank under typical Georgian summer weather. This is contrary to the assumption that E. coli cells do not grow outside their host and suggests that the microbial load of the wastewater is potentially enhanced during its storage in the tank. Electrical conductivity, pH and nitrogen were similar between the influent and effluent wastewater samples. E. coli and total coliform concentrations were mainly below detection in lysimeter samples, indicating the effectiveness of the soil in treating the wastewater.
Keywords: on-site wastewater treatment systems; E. coli; total coliform; growth; septic tank; piedmont
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Appling, D.; Habteselassie, M.Y.; Radcliffe, D.; Bradshaw, J.K. Preliminary Study on the Effect of Wastewater Storage in Septic Tank on E. coli Concentration in Summer. Water 2013, 5, 1141-1151.
Appling D, Habteselassie MY, Radcliffe D, Bradshaw JK. Preliminary Study on the Effect of Wastewater Storage in Septic Tank on E. coli Concentration in Summer. Water. 2013; 5(3):1141-1151.
Appling, Dominique; Habteselassie, Mussie Y.; Radcliffe, David; Bradshaw, James K. 2013. "Preliminary Study on the Effect of Wastewater Storage in Septic Tank on E. coli Concentration in Summer." Water 5, no. 3: 1141-1151.