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The Public Health Risks from Inadequate Septic Tank Percolation in Low Income Areas of California

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The community of Quail Valley is tucked in the hills upstream of the cities of Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore. All community members use septic tanks, which face major operational challenges due to the dense bedrock drain fields built under capacity. During the winter rain season, this area experiences puddles, ponding, and occasional home flooding. A hypothesis of concern by many residents is that this rainwater contains wastewater overflow from inadequately designed septic tanks. The goal of this study is to describe the public health strategy necessary to prevent the health risk from inadequate septic tank construction. To accomplish this goal, the four-step microbial risk assessment framework is combined with community outreach strategies and crowd sourcing methods. The community outreach strategies are participatory and evidence based with real data as outputs that the community can later use to justify applications for government funds to mitigate the problem.

Keywords: Crowd Sourcing; Disadvantaged communities; Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment; Septic tank failure

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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