United States
Environmental Protection
       ANNUAL REPORT 2013
         Decentralized Wastewater Program
Installation of a non-gravel system in North Carolina
 Decentralized Wastewater
 Management  Program Highlights
                                                      "Adequately managed decentralized
                                                      wastewater treatment systems are a cost-
                                                      effective and long-term option for meeting
                                                      public health and water quality goals,
                                                      particularly in less densely populated
                                                      - EPA's 1997 Response to Congress on
                                                      Use of Decentralized Wastewater
        Public Health Benefits:
      Proper use of decentralized
     systems mitigates the risk of
  disease transmission and human
 exposure to pathogens, which can
     occur through drinking water,
   surface water and shellfish bed

       Environmental Benefits:
   Wastewater treatment removes
     pollution from surface water,
      recharges groundwaterand
           replenishes aquifers.

           Economic Benefits:
       Decentralized wastewater
 systems help communities reduce
   large infrastructure and energy
     costs involved in wastewater
        collection and treatment.
              More than one in five homes in the United
              States is served by a decentralized
              wastewater treatment system. These
              systems collectively treat more than 4 billion
              gallons of sewage  every day.

              EPA's Decentralized Program promotes the
              proper management of septic systems and
              other types of decentralized wastewater
              treatment. Ongoing program features

              • A formal partnership with federal, state and
                local government; academia; and industry
                representatives to provide information for
                local decision makers on the economic,
                environmental and health benefits of using
                onsite systems.

                Tools to encourage appropriate design,
                operation and maintenance of
  decentralized systems for states, local
  government, local service providers and

• EPA's Five Management Models
  describe system management approaches.
  These flexible models range widely in
  scope from local regulatory agency support
  for homeowner operation/maintenance
  (e.g., through inventories and service
  reminders) to programs that involve
  maintenance contracts, operating permits,
  and system operation by trained
  professionals hired by a responsible
  management entity.

The following pages elaborate on these
initiatives as well  as the program's 2013

 Annual Report 2013
o   •   4.
                              EPA has worked with communities in more than 25 states to demonstrate various
                              types of decentralized wastewater demonstration projects. Projects can demonstrate
                              decentralized technologies, management programs, or education and training.
Want to learn more?

Decentralized basics:

Economic benefits:

Environmental benefits:

Human health benefits:
               La Pine. Oregon - This project demon-
               strates innovative nitrogen removal tech-
               nologies in combination with understand-
               ing ground water flow and nitrate fate and
               transport assessment. The project also
               offered assistance to the community in
               developing local ordinances and a man-
               agement program.

               WAWTTAR: Cost-Estimating Program -
               This tool, prepared by Humboldt State
               University, assists with planning water
               and wastewater treatment systems, in-
               cluding those utilizing wastewater effluent
               reuse. The cost-estimating program was
               designed to be used at the pre-feasibility
               step in facility planning or infrastructure
Ephesus. Virginia: Education and
Training This project develops and im-
plements an education and citizen training
model program for underserved communi-
ties. The goal is to improve septic system
knowledge among indigent people and
improve local health departments' aware-
ness of their wastewater needs.

Certified Installer of Onsite Wastewater
Treatment Systems - This credential pro-
gram is designed to test the knowledge,
skills and abilities needed for successful
installation of an onsite wastewater treat-
ment system. The National Environmental
Health Association has worked with vari-
ous partner groups to develop this nation-
al program to certify installers of onsite
wastewater treatment systems.
  with the Public
        and Private
 For more details, visit our Septic
        Systems page at http://
 Click on the "Partners" tab to see
           a list of our partners.
                           Ground Water
                            1"^U -11'
                         Protection Council
                EPA and 16 organizations partner via a Memorandum of Understanding to improve
                management and performance of decentralized systems. The MOU confirms the
                commitment of EPA and its partner organizations to encourage proper management
                of decentralized systems and increase collaboration among EPA, state and local
                governments, and decentralized system practitioners and providers. Partnership
                activities include:
                • Use of EPA's Model Program for Onsite Management in the Chesapeake Bay
                • Webcasts about the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community
                  Development Block Grant for septic upgrade or replacement,  and on the MOU
                  papers highlighting decentralized wastewater treatment system benefits
                • SepticSmart Week, during which partners sent out materials to memberships via
                  social media, and published print and online articles
                • Collaborating to support data sharing around technology verification for advanced
                  treatment systems
                • Attendance  at and  contribution to partners' conferences
                                           Decentralized Wastewater Program Annual Report 2013
                                                                          August 2014

 Annual Report 2013
   Engaging  in
In 2013, EPA launched SepticSmart Week to offer
simple tips to help homeowners maintain their septic
systems. These tips enable homeowners to extend
the life of their systems and avoid common causes of
                      Malfunctioning systems are currently the second
                    ,  greatest threat to groundwater quality in the United
                      States and can cost homeowners tens of thousands
                      of dollars to replace if not properly maintained.
  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                      You can find the toolkit of outreach materials for
                      homeowners, local governments and other
                      stakeholders at A Tribal
                      guide is also available in PDF form.

                      SepticSmart Week 2014 is Sept. 22-26.
                                                   Septic Sam is the official
                                                mascot of EPA's SepticSmart
 Model Program to
       Assist State
  Septic Programs
       in Managing
     Water Quality
     Impacts in the
  Chesapeake Bay
On June 28, 2013, EPA released a model program for onsite wastewater
treatment systems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This program seeks
to improve water quality by helping states more effectively prevent nutrients
from entering the Bay from onsite or septic systems.

This is part of EPA's effort to collaborate with state and local partners to re-
duce nitrogen pollution from onsite systems. It also helps implement an ex-
ecutive order that President Obama signed in 2009 that recognized the
Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure. The order called on the federal
government to lead a renewed effort to restore and protect the nation's larg-
est estuary and its watershed.

Learn more about the executive order at http://
executiveorder. chesapeakebay. net/.
                           Decentralized Wastewater Program Annual Report 2013
                                                    August 2014

 Annual Report 2013
                  Case Study: The Water Purification Center

In the spring of 1997, EPA responded to a request from Congress to assess the benefits, costs and
applicability of decentralized wastewater treatment technology and management as a means of ad-
dressing water quality problems. In a landmark report, "Response to Congress on Use of Decentral-
ized Wastewater Treatment Systems," EPA wrote that "[adequately managed decentralized
wastewater systems are a cost-effective and long-term option for meeting public health and water
quality goals, particularly in less densely populated areas."

The EPA report set the stage for a number of initiatives at the federal level to support advancements
in the field and provide guidance to state and local officials and experts. For example, in 1999, Con-
gress began funding a series of National Community Decentralized Wastewater Demonstration Pro-
jects,  with 21  sites designated at funding levels ranging from $700,000 to $5.5 million. These
demonstration projects were intended to "jump start" technology transfer of improved treatment
methods and management approaches. They were selected to provide a diversity of climate, soils
and ecosystems while focusing on various aspects of innovative technology and management.

The Rodale Institute was selected as a site to demonstrate the effective use and treatment of water
resources,  including rainwater collection for toilet and urinal flushing, and constructed-wetland treat-
ment of wastewater. EPA views this particular project, completed in 2013 and now referred to as the
Water Purification Eco-Center, as an important opportunity to educate diverse audiences, including
municipal officials, watershed management groups, interested individuals  affiliated with the Rodale
Institute, and the general public about the benefits of decentralized wastewater  treatment.
Diagram of the system. Photo courtesy of The Rodale Institute accessed from
                                        For more information, please visit:
Decentralized Wastewater Program Annual Report 2013
                          August 2014