A comprehensive, electronic inventory of septic systems will help officials in coastal Georgia counties locate and manage failing systems that are a threat to ground water.

The inventory, compiled by Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, also will serve as an important resource for understanding wastewater infrastructure.


“Septic tanks are an integral part of wastewater treatment,” says Jessica Alcorn, a postdoctoral fellow at Carl Vinson Institute of Government who manages the inventory. “When properly installed and maintained, they effectively remove excess nutrients and potentially dangerous pathogens from wastewater.”

The inventory includes a description of the size, location and site characteristics of all septic tanks in Bryan, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh Counties, including information about their proximity to bodies of water.

“This information will allow county officials to gain a better understanding of how septic tanks impact water resource quality,” says Alcorn.

Some areas of coastal Georgia are experiencing more frequent and severe floods due to rising sea levels. With increased flooding, traditional septic systems might not be the most effective method for treating wastewater. When saturated, soils are unable to treat wastewater properly, which allows pathogens and other contaminants to enter ground and surface waters.

“The septic tank inventory presents opportunities for both the state and local governments to better prepare for future challenges by adopting best practices for wastewater management,” Alcorn said.

Data collected for the septic tank inventory will be incorporated into an existing online mapping platform, WelSTROM.

Funding for the project was provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Incentive Grant Program. Contact: Jessica Alcorn at jealcorn@uga.edu. 706-542-2926