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Water: Septic (Onsite / Decentralized) Systems

Technical Information

EPA facilitates state-of-the-art technology and research for septic (onsite) sewage treatment through its Environmental Technology Verification Program (ETV), technology fact sheets, and case studies and demonstration projects.

Advanced Onsite Technology Products Approved by State - This provides a Web-based list of links to state-by-state information regarding the advanced technology products approved for use, the product approval process, and the States' department which oversees the use of advanced treatment systems for decentralized wastewater management.

Onsite Wastewater Technology Fact Sheets - EPA has developed a series of fact sheets on alternative onsite wastewater technologies such as aerobic treatment, recirculating sand filters and mound systems.

Decentralized Background and Technology (PDF) (29 pp, 713K, About PDF- This presentation talks about the pros and cons of centralized sewers and septic systems. It also discusses different septic system technologies.

The Wastewater Information Systems Tool (TWIST) - This is an off-the-shelf, user-friendly management tool that allows state and local health departments to effectively inventory and manage small wastewater treatment systems in their jurisdictions. It is designed to track information related to homes and facilities served, permits, site evaluations, types of systems, inspections and complaints (EPA 832-E-06-001). Published: 2006

Design Manual: Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems (PDF)
(409 pp, 9MB, About PDF) - This manual provides technical information on onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems for those involved in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of wastewater systems. It does not contain standards nor rules or regulations for these systems. (EPA 625-1-80-012). Published: 1980

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual (PDF) (367 pp, 21MB, About PDF) - This manual was developed to provide supplemental and new information for wastewater treatment professionals in the public and private sectors. It is not intended to replace the previous manual but has a more focused approach to further explore and discuss recent developments in treatment technologies, system design and long-term system management. (EPA-625-R-00-008). Published: 2002

Alert for RV, Boat and Mobile Home Owners and Park Operators about Safe Wastewater Disposal (PDF) (2 pp, 373K, About PDF) - This document provides helpful information on potential dangers of chemical additives such as holding tank deodorizers (EPA 909-F-99-002). Published: 1999

Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment and Wildlife Habitat - This document provides brief descriptions of 17 communities that have used constructed wetlands in their wastewater treatment infrastructure. These wetland treatment systems provide significant water quality benefits while demonstrating additional benefits such as wildlife habitat. (EPA 832-R-93-005). Published: 1993

Assessment of On-Site Graywater and Combined Wastewater Treatment and Recycling Systems - This publication reviews graywater and combined wastewater treatment and recycling technology available for residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial applications. (EPA 832-R-92-900). Published: 1992

Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program - The Environmental Technology Verification Program verifies the performance of innovative technologies that have the potential to improve protection of human health and the environment. ETV accelerates the entrance of new environmental technologies into domestic and international marketplaces. One part of the ETV program is the Water Quality Protection Center, which verifies the performance of commercial ready technologies that protect groundwater and surface waters from contamination. This center has verified technologies in a range of categories, including decentralized wastewater treatment, making credible operating data available that can be widely distributed and accepted by regulators and others.

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