Standard Article

Septic Tank Systems

Domestic Water Supply

  1. John E. Moore

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.dw31

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Moore, J. E. 2005. Septic Tank Systems. Water Encyclopedia. 1:61–63.

Author Information

  1. Hydrologic Consultant, Denver, Colorado

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


According to Wilson and Moore, a septic tank is an “underground vessel for treating wastewater from a single dwelling or building by a combination of settling and anaerobic digestion. Effluent is usually disposed of by leaching. Settled solids are pumped out periodically and hauled to a treatment facility for disposal.” When properly sited, constructed, and maintained, septic systems can provide a low-cost environmentally responsible method of waste disposal. Improperly sited, constructed, operated, or maintained septic systems can, however, lead to water quality degradation and threats to public health.


  • septic system;
  • unsaturated zone;
  • setback distances;
  • water table;
  • bacterial contamination;
  • ground water;
  • fecal coliform bacteria