Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Lawrence Kiage

Second Advisor

Dr. Jordan Clayton

Third Advisor

Dr. Dajun Dai


Gwinnett County, Georgia experienced rapid growth in the 1970’s without the infrastructure so septic systems were installed for residential homes. The number of septic systems grew to over 85,000 with a density of 487 septic systems per square mile. This study mapped the distribution of septic systems to determine regions of potential pathogen surface water. This study addressed what potential health risks do high density septic systems have on surface water quality and how can the history of Gwinnett County assist in future development in the Metropolitan Atlanta area? It was found that the density of septic systems has reduced the surface water quality for streams in the Yellow and Alcovy River basins. An average rainfall cause septic flushing and an increase in the fecal coliform. Other trends observed in the surface water quality of increased BOD, water temperature, and various metals also indicated this flushing effect.