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ADDRESSING WASTEWATER NEEDS IN UNSEWERED AREAS USING COST-EFFECTIVE ONSITE TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL SYSTEMS

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Not all the area in the country is served by centralized wastewater collection and treatment system, sewer systems. Cost of extending an existing collection system to or installing a new collection system for such area typically is quite high. An onsite system can be used for treatment and disposal of wastewater in areas where centralized system is not available or is not a cost-effective option. Total cost for managing wastewater can be reduced significantly by using an individual or clustered onsite systems that requires least amount of collection system. There are approximately 25 millions homes and nonresidential structures in the country use onsite systems. Septic tank drainfields have been a first choice of onsite system through out the 20th century and have been viewed as the only choice for areas that are not served by a centralized system. Soil and site conditions necessary for use of septic systems are prescribed in state or local health department. A proposed site is either accepted or rejected for a septic system based on soil evaluation. Rejection of a site usually means condemning the lot for any habitable building purposes, even when the site is good for all other requirements for development. With technical advances in small-scale wastewater treatment and effluent dispersal systems, it is now possible to engineer a wastewater system in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner for any sites that are suitable for development. Use of non-septic onsite systems can eliminate the dependence on soil for treatment of primary effluent and can ensure long term environmental protection from onsite systems. Such systems require maintenance and over-site by trained operators and should be routinely inspected by regulators. A uniform performance based regulatory framework is needed to allow wide spread use of non-septic onsite treatment and subsurface effluent dispersal systems and to phase out the use of conventional septic systems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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