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Onsite wastewater technology has been around since the beginning of time. With the advent of sewers and wastewater treatment plants, onsite was thought to be a temporary solution. During the last two decades research has been conducted that supports onsite wastewater treatment systems. A milestone was achieved in 1997, when the EPA and Congress officially recognized onsite wastewater treatment systems. “Public health and environmental officials now acknowledge that onsite systems are not just temporary installations that will be replaced eventually by centralized sewage treatment services, but permanent approaches to treating wastewater for release and reuse in the environment. Onsite systems are recognized as potentially viable, low-cost, long-term, decentralized approaches to wastewater treatment if they are planned, designed, installed, operated, and maintained properly” (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1997).

Currently, onsite wastewater treatment systems serve over 37 percent of new development and 25 percent of existing homes in the United States. The traditional old school of thought that went along with sewers and municipal treatment plants has been updated with the innovative thinking that has resulted in cost-effective onsite solutions. Onsite systems are an effective means of treatment at an effective cost. While sewers will still be the design of choice for metropolitan areas, it is important to recognize that extending sewers to suburban and rural areas is not the only solution.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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