Wastewater & Onsite Systems | Onsite Systems
Onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment systems treat sewage from homes and businesses that are not connected to a centralized wastewater treatment plant. Commonly called septic systems, they serve approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population and one-third of new development. If designed, installed, and maintained correctly, they can be effective, long-term solutions. But if improperly designed and maintained, they can leak and spread contaminants into lakes, rivers, and ground water. There is still much more to learn about onsite systems and the major water quality issues associated with them, such as nutrients, bacteria, and viruses. But progress is being made, thanks in part to NEIWPCC's involvement.
NEIWPCC's Onsite Wastewater Task Force, comprised of state onsite wastewater disposal directors, works to identify and respond to problematic onsite issues, particularly the need for more effective onsite programs at the state level. Regional and national coordination is accomplished through regional workgroup meetings and participation in national organizations such as the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA), the Yankee Onsite Wastewater Association (a regional NOWRA affiliate), the National Environmental Services Center, WEF – Small Communities, and the State Onsite Regulators Alliance.
Workgroup meetings cover such topics as onsite wastewater management, innovative/alternative technologies, training needs, and national/regional developments. Past training efforts sponsored by the Task Force include programs on onsite wastewater systems, alternative technologies, management of onsite systems, and proper installation and construction. In 2002 and 2005, the Task Force sponsored the 1st and 2nd Northeast Onsite Wastewater Short Course and Equipment Exhibition held in Newport, R.I and Mystic, Conn., respectively. Plans are now underway for the 3rd Northeast Onsite Short Course to be held in March 2008 in Mystic, Conn.
NEIWPCC also participates in the review process of national onsite/decentralized wastewater guidelines. We most recently helped review NOWRA’s Model Code Framework for the Decentralized Wastewater Infrastructure, EPA's Guidelines for Voluntary Management of Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Systems and EPA's Onsite System Design Manual.
The NEIWPCC Task Force was involved in a study funded by the National Decentralized Water Resources Capacity Development Project. The study, entitled "Variability and Reliability of Test Center and Field Data: Definition of Proven Technology from a Regulatory Viewpoint," compared the differences between test center data and real world data for new onsite technologies. As part of the project, NEIWPCC developed tools that can assist regulators with making decisions based on this data. NEIWPCC staff along with a national advisory committee, which included regulators from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, were able to develop a model for evaluating data on three existing technologies with proven test and field data for biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids. This model will be useful to all state and local onsite wastewater regulators.