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Research Area: Decentralized Systems

To download the Quick Guide to Research and Products from the DWRC (PDF), please click on the above image.

Our Objective

WERF will improve the capacity of public and private agencies to respond to the increasing complexities of, and expanding need for, decentralized wastewater and stormwater systems, as part of an integrated water management approach. WERF will achieve this primarily through support of research and development projects that help communities, engineers, regulators, and others address critical knowledge and information gaps in decentralized systems.

Latest News

Impact of WERF Research on Local Government
A feasibility committee in Conway, MA is exploring the possibility of building a community septic system.
Ahead of Earth Day, USDA Announces Clean Water and Environmental Projects for 60 Rural Communities
This week, representatives from USDA's Rural Development team will be celebrating Earth Day by visiting newly funded projects that will improve rural water quality and safety in 33 states across the country.
In My Backyard: An Innovative Look at the Advances of Onsite Decentralized Wastewater Treatment
Following the completion of the Onsite Septic System workshop in December 2013, a report was developed by workshop lead Glynn Rountree (NAHB) and edited by workshop steering committee members, workshop participants, and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC).
WERF Renews Partnership with EPA and Other Organizations to Properly Manage Decentralized Systems
WERF renewed its partnership in the EPA Decentralized Wastewater Management Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during a signing ceremony on November 19, 2014. The MOU brings together the EPA, state and local governments, and industry groups in an effort to improve the overall performance and management of decentralized (septic) systems. The agreement is the third three-year renewal of an MOU first signed in 2005 between EPA and eight partners. Currently there are 18 partners participating in this collaborative effort. For more information on WERF research on this topic, visit
Governance for Decentralized Sanitation: Global Practice Scan
The purpose of this Global Practice Scan, from developed and developing countries, is to review, bring together, and synthesize insights on how others have approached governance of decentralized systems with respect to operational responsibilities and institutional arrangements.

Products & Tools

Report Reviews Quantitative Tools to Determine Wastewater Soil Treatment Unit Performance
The research (DEC1R06) summarizes available literature on best practices and tools for soil treatment unit (STU) design and performance. It describes STU performance based on data and information from the literature and discusses available modeling tools for constituent modeling.
Report Helps Aid in the Design and Management of Onsite Wastewater Systems
This research (No. 04DEC1) characterizes the composition of modern single residential source onsite raw wastewater and primary treated effluent to aid in the design and management of onsite wastewater systems.
Guidance Now Available for Establishing Successful Responsible Management Entities
New resources provide guidance for successfully establishing and running organizations that manage decentralized wastewater systems -- Responsible Management Entities.
Report Provides Guidance on Modeling Onsite Wastewater Systems
A WERF report gives planners and regulators guidance in developing and using models to evaluate watershed-scale water quality scenarios associated with decentralized or onsite wastewater systems. It includes resources for each step of the planning process, and explains modeling philosophy, model selection, model sensitivity analysis and calibration and other concepts.
Decentralized Stormwater Controls for Urban Retrofit and CSO Reduction (Phase 2)
Learn more about the planning necessary to integrate decentralized stormwater controls for combined sewer overflow management.