Septic System Leak?

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Re: Septic System Leak?

Postby Billy » Feb 18, 2009 3:22 pm

Hey Grandpa,

We met on a Buckners cleanup several years ago. Although I've been on a couple rhodamine dye studies, I can't add to the fine input provided so far. I'm writing in regards to your 'smell was horrific' comment. Last year I was involved in a project looking at delineating sewage sources and combined sewer overflow. I had some acoustic doppler meters to measure discharge (typical physical flow meters don't work well in sewage for obvious reasons) that had to be installed right before the main lines leading into the plant. Even with acoustics, there was a lot of fouling (due to 'grit' accumulation), and the meters needed frequent maintenance - I spent a lot of time down there. I have never wished for olfactory fatigue so much in my life! I also saw formations that not many other people have seen - or would want to... :yikes: Glad that project is over. A quick pic to give you an idea, btw, that mud isn't mud...

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Re: Septic System Leak?

Postby wyandottecaver » Feb 18, 2009 6:48 pm

I don't think anyone doubted it was sewage...the question was source. Yes, it is a serious problem and the landowner is committed to finding and fixing it ASAP. Knowing that the problem exists probably precludes them from inviting children to play in it. "callin the law" on a landowner who is already committed to finding and fixing the problem doesn't seem like a good way to generate goodwill IMHO.

I'm sure you are aware that many municipalities regularly and intentionally dump raw sewage both legally and illegally into various waterways across the country. We even let them extend the outflow pipes out into the streams underwater so they don't alarm people... Binkly's cave is noted for it's "bad areas" underneath certain areas of Corydon and the testing has been done to show it wasn't just a cavers case of gas. Sewage is bad. Pissing off a landowner for trying to FIX a localized case of an endemic problem in that area is worse.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Septic System Leak?

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Feb 18, 2009 8:18 pm

Clearly, my point was rather than "do-it-yourself" for someone who has NEVER run a dye trace before, to call in a professional who has the equipment and the know how.

If the landowner is commited to fixing the problem, then he should have no trouble with professional assistance.

Rather than think everyone in government is there trying to fine somebody, believe it or not, many of us are there to offer assistance when it is requested.

The key here is to determine which septic tank system is failing and design an effective repair. In most states, that will require a repair permit issued by the same people who could solve this problem.

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Re: Septic System Leak?

Postby Grandpa Caver » Feb 18, 2009 10:45 pm

I do believe the owners request that we try a dye trace was spurred by a fear of repercussions once the leak was reported. We are as anxious as anyone to see the problem fixed but at the same time we want to respect the wishes of a landowner who has been a longtime friend to cavers. I've attempted to contact the Enviromental Division of my local County Health Dept. for advise but so far, "no ones home" not even an answering machine!

This is occuring in a very rural setting and looking at the topography I doubt there is any immediate threat to anyones water supply. The creek I spoke of runs through farmland for many miles where it seems to me drainage from fields and cow pastures should be of equal concern.

I will be speaking with the owner in a day or two and will relate to her what I have learned. Would simply turning it in to the health department be the best option? If that is the case then I will certainly recommend it to her.

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Re: Septic System Leak?

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Feb 19, 2009 3:37 pm

If the septic tank system were simply "failing" and you needed a repair permit, the answer would be a simple "Yes".

But since you want to see if this is actually coming out in the cave, or not, there is no way for me to know if that is the correct group in your State to conduct the dye tracing, or not.

Perhaps a phone call just to get information would be a good way to start. The best time to catch many of these people in the office is early (8:00 - 9:00), or late (3:30 - 4:30) because the rest of the day they are out working on construction sites.

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