Wastewater & Onsite Systems
Wastewater treatment has been a primary focus for NEIWPCC since our inception more than 50 years ago. For many years, we played an important role in the planning, review and construction of wastewater treatment facilities in our member states. And we helped lead the effort to establish design standards for such facilities. As a result, rivers that were once open sewers are now much cleaner. But our work is not done. Water bodies that appear clean to the naked eye often contain pollutants that require constant and advanced treatment. Because of this, NEIWPCC has expanded the focus of our wastewater division to cover a broad range of issues.
NEIWPCC now plays an important role in the training and certification of wastewater treatment plant operators in our member states. Our Training Center offers a wide variety of courses for operators at locations throughout New England and New York State. The Training Center typically conducts 50-70 programs per year that attract more than 1,500 students. NEIWPCC also administers the wastewater training programs for the states of Maine (through JETCC) and Massachusetts.
NEIWPCC is also helping our member states meet the challenge of attracting much-needed new talent to the wastewater field. While vitally important to all communities, wastewater treatment is hardly a glamorous career path in the eyes of young people. The profession is having difficulty keeping up with staffing needs due to retirements and additional regulatory requirements. To help solve the problem, NEIWPCC led a cooperative effort with NEWEA and the wastewater associations of our member states to produce a brochure/poster that showcases the many benefits of being a water quality professional.
Our wastewater division has also expanded its focus to include such related issues as collection systems, residuals, security/vulnerability assessments, and technical assistance. NEIWPCC is also actively working on issues associated with smaller onsite or decentralized wastewater treatment systems, typically called septic systems. These small systems serve approximately 25 percent of the households in this country and approximately one-third of all new construction. There are enormous water quality issues associated with them that are only beginning to be understood. But progress is being made, thanks in part to NEIWPCC's involvement.
Workgroups are our primary tool for fostering collaboration on important wastewater issues. Wastewater Division staff meet regularly with representatives from the New England states, New York State, EPA, and other involved organizations. The workgroup members exchange information and ideas on current issues, initiatives, and technical projects. We have workgroups devoted to Wastewater Training and Technical Assistance, Onsite Wastewater, Collection Systems, and Residuals.
For more information, contact Tom Groves, NEIWPCC's director of wastewater and onsite programs.