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Lake phosphorus loading from septic systems by seasonally perched ground water, Puget Sound region, Washington

Open-File Report 82-907

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Abstract

In a previous study, estimated phosphorus (P) loadings from septic systems to lakes in the Puget Sound region were found to be correlated with the presence of old homes around the lakes. In the present study, we assessed the movement of septic-effluent P in seasonally perched ground water near Pine Lake, a typical glacial-till lake in the region. This ground water occurs in soils overlying less permeable glacial till, which is prevalent around Pine Lake and many other lakes in the area. Water samples were taken from 15 shallow (<1.5 meters) wells installed 10-50 meters downgradient from seven septic systems 20 to 40 years old. The equivalent volumetric fraction of each sample consisting of undiluted effluent was estimated from chloride concentration. Using Monte Carlo analysis to account for the various sources of uncertainty, we found that, though movement of diluted septic effluent to the lake was common, transport of more than 1% of effluent P through the soil was probable (p > or = 0.5) for only 4 of 26 samples, was transport of more than 10% of effluent P probable. The highest probabilities of P movement were associated with two samples from a well that was downgradient from a drainfield located at the base of a hillslope depression where perched ground water concentrates and remains for extended periods. All evidence considered, most P loading to Pine Lake from septic systems appears to come from only a few older systems located in areas where perched ground-water flow and associated saturated soil conditions predominate for extended periods during the winter season. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Lake phosphorus loading from septic systems by seasonally perched ground water, Puget Sound region, Washington
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
82-907
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1982
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
i, 28 p. ill., maps ;28 cm.