NESC helps create partnership

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January 14, 2005 –

WVU Center Joins EPA to Address Septic System Challenges –

Morgantown, W.Va. – There are 25 million septic systems in the U.S. serving more than 70 million people. And, as many as one-third of all new housing developments in the country will be built with onsite waste disposal systems. Unless they are designed, constructed, and managed correctly, these wastewater treatment systems will be destined to join a growing number of septic system failures, currently estimated at between 10 and 50 percent.

To address this problem, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) at West Virginia University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have formed a partnership with seven other national organizations to improve septic systems across the country. In doing so, the participants will combine forces to reduce pollution in the nation’s waterways and improve local community public and environmental health.

“Septic system failure is a serious concern in the United States,” says Rick Phalunas, NESC interim executive director. “It can negatively affect public health, the condition of our environment, property values, and the potential for community and economic development. When properly built and managed, though, failure rates drop to a level that permits repair and replacement before serious effects result.

“The challenge before us is daunting and beyond the capacity of any single organization,” Phalunas notes. “But by working in unison on this issue, this wide-ranging, national partnership can make the task of managing all these systems less formidable.”

“This agreement will help solidify our national partnership to protect drinking water supplies and local water quality through promoting change in the way these wastewater systems are managed,” says Ben Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for water. “I am pleased to formally recognize the contributions these partners make to achieve results in protecting public health and improving water quality.”

In addition to NESC and EPA, the other partners include: the National Association of Towns and Townships, the National Association of Wastewater Transporters, the National Environmental Health Association, the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, the Water Environment Federation, and the Consortium of Institutes for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment.

NESC’s specific role in the partnership is to serve as a national resource and information clearinghouse; to help communities establish managed systems; to provide technical assistance; to lead training sessions; and to disseminate knowledge through publications.

Based at West Virginia University, NESC is a national leader in the areas of drinking water, wastewater, environmental training, solid waste, infrastructure security, and utility management in small and rural communities. NESC’s engineers and technical experts have been at the forefront of septic system technologies for more than 25 years. To learn more about NESC, call (800) 624-8301 or visit