State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2009NH117B
Title: A pilot study of septic impacts on water quality using Boron concentrations and isotopes as a source tracer
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2009
End Date: 2/28/2010
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Groundwater, Non Point Pollution, Methods
Keywords: septic systems, boron tracer, nutrients, water quality, lakes
Principal Investigator: Schloss, Jeffrey (University of New Hampshire)
Federal Funds: $ 29,949
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 54,770
Abstract: The contamination of surface water by septic systems has become a growing environmental and economic concern during the shoreland development boom of the past decade. However, it is complicated to quantify the magnitude of the impact and to attribute precise sources, making it difficult for regulars to address the issue. Tracers have been used to assess the influence septic effluent has on surface waters. Boron has proved to be a particularly useful tracer in some regions for measuring the transport and rate of septic contamination and can be used to describe effluent's role in surface water quality. This study will use boron concentrations in groundwater and surface water to estimate the influence of septic systems on groundwater and surface water. We will use the Squam Lake Watershed as the test location for this pilot study because of the excellent background water quality data and land use information available from a variety of sources. Our goals are to evaluate this method for application in the northeast, and based on the pilot results, provide preliminary recommendations for water quality protection to the five towns in the Squam Watershed.

Progress/Completion Report, 2009, PDF

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