Septic systems are considered a source of groundwater contamination. In the study described in this article, the fate of microbes applied to a sandy loam soil from North Carolina coastal plain as impacted by water table depth was studied. Soil materials were packed to a depth of 65 cm in 17 columns (15-cm diameter), and a water table was established at 30, 45, and 60 cm depths using five replications. Each day, 200 mL of an artificial septic tank effluent inoculated with E. coli were applied to the top of each column, a 100-mL sample was collected at the water table level and analyzed for E. coli, and 100 mL was drained from the bottom to maintain the water table. Two columns were used as control and received 200 mL/day of sterilized effluent. Neither 30 nor 45 cm of unsaturated soil was adequate to attenuate bacterial contamination, while 60 cm of separation appeared to be sufficient. Little bacterial contamination moved with the water table when it was lowered from 30 to 60 cm.