Preliminary Study on the Effect of Wastewater Storage in Septic Tank on E. coli Concentration in Summer

Dominique Appling, Mussie Habteselassie, David Radcliffe, James Bradshaw
2013 Water  
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
more » ... elease 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.
doi:10.3390/w5031141 fatcat:pcsjyoyqhjdcxagy7slm2qadza