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A system for geologic evaluation of pollution potential at mountain dwelling sites




Waltz, James P., author
Environmental Resources Center, Colorado State University, publisher

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Development of mountain homesites is accelerating in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. These homesites often require individual water wells and sewage disposal systems. Unfortunately, the widely used septic tank-leach field system generally is not suited for use in the mountainous terrain where soils are thin or missing. Although current federal regulations call for six feet or more of soil at the leach field site, many of the individual sewage disposal systems now in operation in the Rocky Mountain Region of Colorado fail to meet this requirement. Sewage effluent at these sites may directly enter bedrock fractures and travel large distances without being purified. As a consequence, contamination of streams, lakes, and ground water from these malfunctioning leach fields has become a problem of increasing magnitude. Investigations of geologic, topographic, and hydrologic conditions at over 100 homesites in the Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado have resulted in the development of objective criteria for evaluating pollution potential at mountain homesites. In addition, the results of these investigatians indicate that contamination of water wells may be decreased significantly where geologic conditions are considered in the selection of sites for leach fields and wells. Although the results of these studies should be considered preliminary, they do tend to confirm that the orientation of jointing surfaces in the bedrock significantly affects the travel path of contaminants.


Submitted to Office of Water Resources Research, U.S. Department of Interior.
January 1975.

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Groundwater flow -- Colorado
Water -- Pollution -- Colorado
Sewage disposal -- Colorado


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