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Over the past decade there have been numerous demonstration sites set up around North America to study the performance of innovative and alternative wastewater treatment systems for decentralized wastewater treatment applications. Many of these demonstrative projects were funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in order to establish a means of evaluating these new technologies. In addition, NSF International (NSF) and the USEPA partnered in setting up the ETV Source Water Protection Pilot. This ETV program addresses the need for verification of the performance of technologies for decentralized wastewater treatment. Regardless of all of the data generated from the numerous demonstration sites and the ETV verification studies, there is still often a request from local regulators for long-term performance data from actual installations. A common response from local regulators is that the innovative and alternative treatment systems work well in controlled demonstrations, but how well do they work on actual decentralized installations?

In 1995, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) established a new code for decentralized systems known as Title 5. The new Title 5 code provided for a method of field evaluation of innovative and alternative technologies. This method of evaluation allowed for the installations of a set number of units (at least the first 50), with the criteria that these installations would be tested every three months for duration of three years. After the three-year duration, the installations are to be evaluated by the DEP to demonstrate that they met the effluent limits as established by the DEP.

As a result of Massachusetts DEP Title 5 program, there are several innovative and alternative technologies that have been field-tested under this program. One of these technologies will be evaluated to show how these advance systems perform in the field. Data will be presented on 28 residential and 12 commercial installations with samples being collected in all four seasons of the year. In addition, data will be presented on eight seasonal units that were tested during the time that they were in operation over the summer. The data from these installations will be compared with the data collected from two demonstration sites. These demonstration sites are the Wastewater Technology Site of NSF International in Chelsea, Michigan and the Mamquam Wastewater Technology Test Facility in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

In order to establish a field-testing program that would assure that the data collected was a representative sample, it was necessary to provide training to the homeowners, operators and the regulatory authorities. Some of the problems that were encountered with this process were sample collection problems, sample storage issues, owner issues, and equipment installation problems. A discussion of these problems and how they were resolved provides some background of what needs to be considered when a field-testing program is undertaken.

As a result of the Massachusetts DEP Title 5 program, long-term performance data is now available for actual installations over an extended period. This information will assist the local regulators in providing assurance that innovative and alternative treatment systems can meet the performance criteria over a long duration similar to the controlled testing performed at demonstration sites.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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