WIT Press

An Economic Analysis Of Poorly Sited Septic Systems


Free (open access)





Page Range

771 - 782




290 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


S. Vedachalam, F. H. Hitzhusen & K. M. Mancl


Soil-based septic systems serve about one in every four households in the United States. Proper design and quality of soil play an important role in the functioning of such systems. Shallow soils in the state of Ohio do not support traditional leach field systems that require a depth of 3 to 4 feet of soil for effective treatment of domestic wastewater. Installation of such systems in areas with shallow or saturated soils leads to incomplete treatment of organic and bacterial pollutants. Untreated or partially treated wastewater not only affects the immediate residents, but also contaminates the groundwater aquifer and the local watershed. Drinking contaminated water could lead to illness and a subsequent decrease in the quality of life, and a loss of property valuation. This study aims to isolate the effect of poor site selection on the value of the property. The assessed sale price of 549 randomly selected properties in Licking County, Ohio was analyzed and compared across various structural, community and environmental factors. Results indicate that properties sited on soils that are deemed optimal for wastewater treatment are valued, on average, $15,752 higher than those sited on sub-optimal soils. The results from this study would not only help the property owners in making better private decisions regarding installation of septic systems, but would also guide policy decisions that affect public health and common waters. Keywords: septic systems, soil quality, property valuation, hedonic analysis, Ohio.


septic systems, soil quality, property valuation, hedonic analysis, Ohio