Schematic cesspool (left), water, and constituents leach downward. Septic leach field (below) works similarly depending on soil type and depth (3) (a).
A Better Smoking Gun
Just because governments monitor something called Fecal Coliform and document its presence does not mean it indicates genuinely hazardous pathogens are present. The fecal coliform is a 100 plus-year-old and arbitrary distinction that does not correlate with the presence of pathogens. Many agencies no longer use this test. A more appropriate measure of microbial water quality is the typical bacteria E.coli. Most E. coli are harmless, yet some strains like O157:H7, the infamous Jack in the Box undercooked hamburger strain is potentially lethal. It is a typical resident in feedlot cattle feces and not humans.
Science validates the monitoring of E. coli for drinking water safety assessment. Since we drink volumes of water, this allows the consumption of millions of bacteria at a time. The “bad” E. coli have a minimum infective dose of about one million. Consume less than that and disease is not likely.
The graph to the right shows that significant virus survives in warm wastewater for over 140 days. Ample transit time to reach the shallow ground and nearshore waters (13).
In the current time, it is more than unrealistic to promote expensive transitions to septic systems when the protection of groundwater and nearshore waters are negligible and the costs extreme. It is most advisable to step back, set goals and apply the objectives of the of state and federal policies. For the health of the people and their economy, we are compelled to implement human waste control strategies that meet and exceed those goals. The lowest common denominator may be the least costly, then again we get what we pay for in the long run.