Effects of septic-tank effluent on ground-water quality in northern Williamson County and southern Davidson County, Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Investigations Report 91-4011

by Dorothea Withington Hanchar

This report is available as a pdf below


An investigation of the potential contamination of ground water from septic tank systems blasted in bedrock in Williamson and Davidson Counties, Tennessee, was conducted during 1988-89. Water samples were collected from domestic and observation wells, springs, and surface-water sites in a residential subdivision in the northern part of Williamson County near Nashville. The subdivision has a high density of septic-tank field lines installed into blasted bedrock Water samples also were collected from a well located in an area of Davidson County where field lines were installed in 5 feet of soil. Samples were analyzed for major inorganic constituents, nutrients, total organic carbon, optical brighteners, and bacteria. Although results of analyses of water samples from wells indicate no effect of septic-tank effluent on ground-water quality at these sites, water from two springs located downgradient from the subdivision had slightly larger concentrations of nitrite plus nitrate (2.2 and 2.7 milligrams per liter N), and much larger concentrations of fecal coliform and fecal streptococci bacteria (2,000 to 3,200 and 700 to 900 colonies per 100 milliliters of sample, respectively), than other wells and springs sampled during 1988. Water from one of these springs contained optical brighteners, which indicates that septic-tank effluent is affecting ground-water quality.

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