STREAM AND WATERSHED RESEARCH
TRACING SEPTIC SYSTEMS
Non-point source nitrogen is a large source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and other coastal estuaries worldwide but is difficult to prevent and control because of the difficulty with identifying sources. The Harris lab is working to identify a way to separate Nitrogen from septic systems of different types from other non point source Nitrogen.
The chemical signature of septic system runoff is much different than the signature from natural streams as all of the chemicals that pass through the body (like caffeine from coffee) or wash down the drain (like cleansers or hair products) end up passing through the septic system and many eventually enter nearby streams.