Source Water Protection Activity Guide

Quick Select

Use any of the following drop-down menus to navigate through the guide. Choosing a potential contaminant source category from the drop-down menu will narrow your potential contaminant source choices. Choosing a protection activity category from the drop-down menu will narrow your protection activity choices.

Contaminant Type

Potential Contaminant Source Category Potential Contaminant Source

Protection Activity Category Protection Activity

Septic System

Potential Contaminant Source

Septic systems or on-site wastewater disposal systems are underground wastewater treatment structures that use a combination of nature and technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry. A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest or remove most contaminants from wastewater before it reaches ground water. The septic tank holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out and oil and grease to float to the surface. Tanks are designed to prevent sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield. Malfunctioning systems due to improper design and/or maintenance can release bacteria, viruses, and chemicals to ground water. Additionally, wastes disposed of improperly into septic systems can adversely impact operation of the system and contribute to ground water contamination. Septic systems are common in rural areas without centralized sewer systems.

Possible Protection Activities:

Potential Contaminants:
  • IOC, Microbe

    Resources for this Source:
  • EPA: Source Water Protection Practices Bulletin
    Managing septic systems to prevent contamination of drinking water.
  • EPA: Homeowners Guide to Septic Systems
    A brochure developed by the EPA that details all you need to know about your septic system and its maintenance.
  • EPA: NPS Outreach Toolbox
    The Nonpoint Source (NPS) Outreach Toolbox is intended for use by state and local agencies and other organizations interested in educating the public on nonpoint source pollution or stormwater runoff. The Toolbox contains a variety of resources to help develop an effective and targeted outreach campaign.
  • Septic Insight App
    Get Insight on the function of your Septic System with this all Ā­in one app.

Related Sources:


  • Residential/Municipal