SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1997

On-Site Sewage Disposal for a Subdivision in a High Groundwater Area


The Lightning “W” Ranch has been operated by the Weise family in a small valley in the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Reno, Nevada for over 40 years. The Ranch has been supplied by surface water and three irrigation wells over that period irrigating over 300 acres (121 ha) of pastureland. Although annual rainfall is less than only 12.6 in. (32 cm), a perennial stream flows through the property and groundwater may be found as shallow as 2 ft (0.6 m) below the ground surface. Plans for a 107-unit residential community with private golf course were stalled as a result of concerns over potential groundwater impacts by septic systems. Authorities from the local Health Department and the State Division of Environmental Protection assisted private sector engineers in developing a plan using a combination of standard shallow septic systems in engineered fill, recirculating sand filters, and an artificial wetlands to provide sewage treatment for homes, golf clubhouse, and golf course restrooms. Meanwhile, the owner and his team of designers blended grading plans for the septic leach fields, the golf course, and flood control into a reconfiguration of the ranch landscape that left only 40 acres (16 ha) of original ground and resulted in over 1 000 000 yd3 (764 656 m3) of material moved.

Author Information

Tyre, BW
Washoe County Health Department, Reno, NV
Dennis, MC
Pezonella Associates, Reno, NV
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 283–293
DOI: 10.1520/STP13804S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5376-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2420-2