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NEHA sinks deeper into wastewater.

The past several years have seen a remarkable flurry of activity in the onsite wastewater management field. Federal activities following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) 1997 Response to Congress on the Use of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems, as well as aging sanitary infrastructure, advances in onsite technology, and increasing pressure to develop property with no access to centralized sewer systems have highlighted the importance of improving regulatory/management programs. NEHA's members often play crucial roles in onsite wastewater management, and local regulatory personnel will be key players in moving regulatory and management practices and programs forward.

NEHA has taken significant advisory and leadership roles in advancing onsite wastewater programs and in providing resources for members and other practitioners. Current NEHA President Doug Ebelherr and Technical Section Chair Anthony Smithson have represented NEHA officially, and many other NEHA members, too numerous to mention, are participating in national organizations and efforts, some of which are as follows:

* the U.S. EPA Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Steering Committee, which has been developing the following management and technical resources:

-- Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual (February 2002),

-- Voluntary National Guidelines for Management of Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems (March 2003), and

-- Handbook for Management of Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems (draft published March 2003 at www.epa.gov/owm/mtb/decent/index.htm);

* the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, which has a committee working on a national model code;

* advisory groups to

-- the Consortium of Institutes for Decentralized Wastewater Management and

-- the National Decentralized Water Resources Capacity Development Project;

* the State Onsite Regulators Alliance; and

* the Stakeholder Advisory Group, Environmental Technology Verification Program.

NEHA currently is completing a U.S. EPA-funded project to develop onsite wastewater curricula and conduct training. In cooperation with other U.S. EPA partners, NEHA has led in the development of half-day generalist training workshops and one- and two-day practitioner training sessions. To date, half-day sessions (in cooperation with the National Association of Counties) have been held in Illinois and Minnesota, a one-day session (in cooperation with NOWRA and the California Onsite Wastewater Association) has been held in California, and a two-day session (in cooperation with the Illinois Environmental Health Association) has been held in Illinois. In September, NEHA anticipates completing this obligation with a two-day workshop in Seattle and a one-day session in Colorado.

Recently, NEHA was awarded a U.S. EPA grant to develop, over a two-year period, a credential for onsite wastewater installation contractors. Details have not yet been finalized, but NEHA will have an exciting opportunity to lead an effort to provide a uniform measure of contractor competence for the onsite-wastewater community, consistent with U.S. EPA's aim of elevating the level of onsite system management practices nationwide. Certainly, this cooperative agreement will establish stronger relationships between NEHA and collaborating partners.

For more information, please visit ww.neha.org/research/onsite_wastewater.htm.

Anthony Smithson, R.S., M.S.
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Title Annotation:NEHA News
Author:Smithson, Anthony
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:485
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