Can leaking sewer line be responsible for soil dead zone

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Old 08-14-17, 12:36 PM
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Can leaking sewer line be responsible for soil dead zone

Hi, I have a problem in my yard I hope someone here might be able to help me diagnose and provide me some advise on how to deal with it. I have a dead zone in my front yard that nothing can grow in. Over the weekend I was digging a new irrigation line that passes right over this area and the shovel could not penetrate it at all. I had to find a spot outside the area and leverage out the soil hunk by hunk, and when I turn it over it is sludgy and covered in a milky spore. It seems to be directly over the sewer lateral, so wondering is this from a long-term leak in the terra-cotta sewer lateral? The area appears to be about 16 to 20 feet square(actually, cubed).

I was hoping to create a vegetable garden in this part of my front yard, so also interesting in comments on remediation. Should I excavate and replace the soil if I need to replace the lateral? The soil looks and feels incredibly toxic.

Not sure the pics completely tell the story, but attaching anyway.

Thanks
Brian
 
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Old 08-14-17, 12:39 PM
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The soil looks and feels incredibly toxic.
I have no idea what that means but if the sewer pipe is leaking, it needs to be replaced.
 
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Old 08-14-17, 12:55 PM
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I've never seen something like that before... but typically, minor sewer leaks are good for plants. They like the extra nutrients and water (not that it's a good thing though!).

How long have you owned the home? How long has this dead zone been an issue?
 
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Old 08-14-17, 02:32 PM
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I have been here for more than a decade, and have always been aware of this area being a problem, but never had a reason to look to closely at it before. I had been thinking an alternate explanation might be a prior resident treating the area as a used-oil dumping ground, but since it is so close to the sewer lateral, had been leaning toward that as an explanation.

So, does it make sense that sewer effluent might migrate up several feet through the soil to create this mess? I would tend to think it would sink, but the soil around my area is extremely dense clay, so it could be that it is forced up.

Thanks
 

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Old 08-14-17, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for the response. I guess that is what I am trying to figure out, if it is leaking sewer pipe pushing this stuff up, or it it is something a prior owner dumped here. Would having it scoped assist in trying to id the cause?

Thanks, Brian
 
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Old 08-14-17, 03:03 PM
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Having someone run a camera through the lines sounds like a good next step to me.
 
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Old 08-14-17, 04:58 PM
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Or send in a representative sample to the Soil Conservation Service to have it analyzed and find out what it actually is that's worrying you.
 
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Old 08-14-17, 06:05 PM
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leaking sewer pipe pushing this stuff up
IF you had a leak it would soak down, not up. You would likely find areas of the lawn that were sunk down or mini sink holes where the dirt washed into the pipe.

Not sure what you have but I doubt it's sewer related.
 
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