Ecological Risk Analysis: Wastewater Treatment Risks for on-site treatment systems
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Wastewater Treatment Risks for on-site treatment systems


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is providing risk assessment and risk management expertise to the National Decentralized Water Resources Capacity Development Project (NDWRCDP), a cooperative effort funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that supports research and development to improve our understanding and strengthen the foundations of training and practice in the field of onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment.

The anticipated risk-based approach to decision making will help improve the way risk is considered in permitting regulations for on-site wastewater treatment systems. Such regulations implicitly include risk, vary among state and local jurisdictions, and have been established through experience with standard on-site systems in typical soil conditions. However, the estimation of explicitly defined risks associated with these rules has not been accomplished. A major impediment is the lack of a comprehensive and consistent approach to defining the potential risks. On-going efforts at risk-based decision making are an excellent step forward, but they lack a standardized method for integrating disparate risks into a comprehensive risk-based approach that can be applied at various sites and geographical scales. Other limitations generally include a lack of explicit, risk-based endpoints and a failure to address multiple types of risks. The proposed risk-based approach will integrate the available methods and models. It will also serve as a detailed road map for future research and development efforts in the field of on-site wastewater treatment.


Jones, D.S., A.Q. Armstrong, M.D. Muhlheim, and B.V. Sorensen. 2001. Integrated Risk Assessment/Risk Management as Applied to Decentralized Wastewater Treatment: A High-Level Framework. In: National Research Needs Conference Proceedings: Risk-Based Decision Making for Onsite Wastewater Treatment, Published by EPRI, Palo Alto, CA, US Environmental Protection Agency, and National Decentralized Water Resources Capacity Development Project: March 15, 2001


National Decentralized Water Resources Capacity Development Project (NDWRCDP)

ORNL onsite wastewater treatment (OWT) - web site for integrated risk assessment of onsite wastewater treatment (OWT) systems.

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Comments or requests for more information should be sent to Rebecca Efroymson (
Last Updated: February 26, 2003

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