199615 Septic Systems and Drinking Water: The Underground Truth

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 4:30 PM

Shanika T. Whitehurst , Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Citizens have a direct effect on their drinking water quality through proper care of septic systems. Discharges from failing septic systems are one of the many causes of nutrient contamination of surface and ground water. When septic systems malfunction, the possibility of contaminating underground sources of drinking water increases thereby, increasing human health risk.

EPA has launched several outreach projects to educate citizens regarding their impacts on drinking water quality with a particular focus on ground water. For example, our, “Your Water. Your Decision” campaign which provides citizens information as to how they can protect drinking water in their communities. Ground water contribution of contaminants to drinking water supplies are underestimated due to lack of funding for monitoring and modeling. Therefore, few concerted efforts are made to prevent ground water contamination although the number of public water systems (PWS) receiving ground water is ten times greater than those receiving surface water. Ground water systems service over 100 million people nationwide. Private well owners are particularly susceptible to ground water contamination because water quality testing is infrequent.

The purpose of this poster is to inform the public about the dangers that exist to their drinking water by misuse of septic systems and explain how they can make a difference in their communities. The EPA Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water and the Office of Wastewater Management oversee septic systems owned by businesses or homeowners. Through collaboration, public outreach and education programs; drinking water and human health can be better protected.

Learning Objectives:
Explain how contamination of drinking water from spetic systems can adversely affect human health. Describe what people can do to protect their drinking water supplies.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Water Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently work for the US EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water and I have participated in similar activities of environmental health education and am responsible for the content of the poster.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.