Septic Systems for Small Communities
Related Mid-Atlantic Information
- Clean Water State Revolving Fund
- Combined Sewer Overflows
- Drinking Water
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
- Nonpoint Source Pollution
- Source Water Protection
- Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL)
- Underground Injection Control
- Water Infrastructure Financial Assistance
Large Capacity Septic Systems
Large capacity septic systems receive solely sanitary waste either from multiple dwellings, or from a non-residential establishment, where the system has the total capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. EPA is trying to improve the performance of these systems across the country to protect our drinking water sources. More...
Approximately 25% of the existing households and 33% of new development in the Mid-Atlantic Region rely on an individual onsite or small cluster system to treat wastewater. Many of these systems are installed and largely forgotten until problems arise. It is estimated that at least 10% might not be functioning properly.
Onsite, clustered and decentralized systems (septic systems) include a wide range of wastewater treatment technologies all designed to process household and commercial sewage. Most discharge treated wastewater to the soil, but some discharge to ditches, streams, lakes and other water bodies and need special federal or state permits.
Onsite, clustered and decentralized wastewater treatment systems are known by many names, such as
- Septic systems
- Onsite sewage systems
- On-lot sewage systems
- Private sewage systems
- Individual sewage systems
- Cluster, neighborhood or community systems
In its 1997 Report to Congress, EPA concluded that "adequately managed" onsite, clustered and decentralized wastewater treatment systems (septic systems) are and should be considered a cost-effective and long-term wastewater treatment option for meeting public health and water quality goals, particularly in less densely populated areas.
Voluntary National Guidelines for Management of Onsite and Clustered (Decentralized) Wastewater Treatment Systems ("Guidelines") - consists of 5 models that are structured to reflect an increasing need for more comprehensive management as the sensitivity of the environment or the degree of technological complexity of these systems increases.
Handbook for Managing Onsite and Clustered (Decentralized) Wastewater Treatment Systems ("Handbook") - assists with implementing the "Guidelines"; It provides information on what an onsite/decentralized management program entails; a flow chart details the management development process.
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual ("Design Manual") - information on onsite wastewater treatment system technologies, siting, design, installation practices, maintenance and replacement.
EPA's goal is to have our States either "formally' or "functionally" adopt the "Guidelines" by declaring that they embrace the concepts associated with comprehensive onsite/decentralized management. "Formal" and "functional" adoption by the States is intended to reflect both the voluntary nature of State adoption under the formal, functional definitions and the ability of the States to exercise its judgment in adopting the Guidelines to reflect local and regional needs and conditions.
EPA Mid-Atlantic intends to meet with its state representatives to evaluate their onsite/decentralized programs and come to an agreement on deficiencies that would need to be addressed in order for the state to receive approval.
In addition, EPA Mid-Atlantic will:
- strengthen its internal and external partnerships by improving awareness of the Guidelines and by fostering integration of onsite management principles into the water programs impacted by onsite wastewater treatment systems,
- provide comments, suggestions and recommendations to states that are in the process of revising their onsite regulations (to incorporate onsite management concepts into their regulations),
- support the principles outlined in the Management Guidelines by encouraging the use of onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment systems and by developing confidence in these systems such that they are routinely considered in wastewater treatment infrastructure planning,
- disseminate information to communities to improve public awareness (particularly those that have onsite issues reported in the newspaper, "Hot List Headlines," provided daily by the EPA Office of Communication and Government Relations), and
- manage Section 104(b)(3) grant funds designated for demonstration projects that support State adoption of the Guidelines.
- Maryland Department of the Environment - developing a regulatory package designed to implement an onsite management program and developing a program to certify onsite system operators.
- Virginia Department of Health - onsite performance monitoring for the purpose of developing performance based regulations
- Ephesus Baptist Church - developed a national model for minority and indigent onsite wastewater education and training
J. Schepens (Dave.Schepens@state.de.us)
Ground Water Discharges Section
District of Columbia
None; 100% sewered
Onsite Well and Septic Systems
Liaison with Local Health and Residential Wells and Septics
Deputy Program Manager
Bay Restoration/Onsite Disposal Systems
Bureau of Water Standards and Facility Regulations
Division of Planning and Permits
J. Alexander (Don.Alexander@vdh.virginia.gov)
Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services
Office of Environmental Health Services
Rick Hertges (email@example.com)
Public Health Sanitation Division
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Septic Tank Registration
Division of Water and Waste Management