The northern Midlands area in Palm Beach County is an area of expected residential growth, but its flat topography, poor drainage, and near-surface marl layers retard rainfall infiltration and cause frequent flooding. Public water supplies and sewer services are not planned for the area, thus, residents must rely on domestic wells and septic tanks. The water table in the northern Midlands area is seldom more than 5 feet below land surface, and regional ground-water flows are east, southwest, and south from the north-central part of the area where ground-water levels are highest. Ground-water quality in the western part of the area and in the Loxahatchee Slough is greatly influenced by residual seawater emplaced during the Pleistocene Epoch. Chloride and dissolved-solids concentrations of ground water in the surficial aquifer system in these areas often exceed secondary drinking-water standards. Residual seawater has been more effectively flushed from the more permeable sediments elsewhere in the eastern and southwestern parts of the study area. Test at three septic-tank sites showed traces of effluent in ground water (38-92 feet from the septic tank outlets) and that near-surface marl layers greatly impede the downward migration of the effluent in the surficial aquifer system throughout the northern midlands.
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Hydrogeology and Migration of Septic-Tank Effluent in the Surficial Aquifer System in the Northern Midlands Area, Palm Beach County, Florida