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NESC Media Room

News Releases - 2008

All of Our Popular "Tech Briefs" on One Great CD
Tech Brief Package Update

Morgantown, W.Va.—We have just released a must-have tool for you and your clients. Our new "Tech Brief Package" includes all 46 of our "Tech Briefs" (plus 2 bonus fact sheets) covering such topics as biofilm control, calibrating liquid feed pumps, or using ozone for disinfection.

The NESC "Tech Briefs," our four-page fact sheets originally included in "On Tap" magazine, cover many practical topics and provide concise, technical information written for drinking water and wastewater professionals, particularly small system operators, and include diagrams, tables of information, and sources for further study.

All 46 tech briefs plus 2 bonus fact sheets are included on this CD at a cost of only $5.00. Shipping and handling charges will apply. Order #DWCDOM127 "Tech Brief Package."

Order your copy of this "Tech Brief Package" today by e-mail at info@mail.nesc.wvu.edu or call the NESC at (304) 293-4191. (toll-free) or (304) 293-4191.

Posted January 14, 2008


NESC Helps Expand National Partnership
WVU Center Joins EPA and 14 Other Organizations to Address Wastewater Challenges

EPA LogoMorgantown, W.Va.—In 2005, West Virginia University's National Environmental Services Center (NESC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with seven other national organizations, launched an initiative to improve septic systems across the country and reduce pollution in the nation's waterways. At a November 19, 2008 signing ceremony in Washington D.C., the initial partnership was renewed and six new organizations joined the effort.

"As many as one-fourth of all new houses in the U.S. have septic or other onsite systems to treat their wastewater," said Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC's executive director. "But if they aren't designed, constructed, and managed correctly, these wastewater treatment systems will be destined to join a growing number of septic system malfunctions, currently estimated at between 10 and 50 percent. By joining forces with EPA and our colleagues in similar organizations, we are confident that, collectively, we can help communities address the water quality and public health issues posed by malfunctioning septic systems."

"Clean water begins at home," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water. "Our new partnership for sustaining septics and decentralized wastewater systems will increase awareness, stewardship, and environmental performance."

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 the organization's publications.

In addition to being an information source, the NESC-sponsored State Onsite Regulators Alliance (SORA)—an organization of state regulators that oversee the regulation, construction, and repair of subsurface disposal systems, along with their local health department partners—joined the national initiative.

"These state regulators have a wealth of practical experience and first-hand information about the environmental and public health issues associated with decentralized waste disposal systems," Iwan explains. "Since 1999, West Virginia University through NESC and the National Research Center for Coal and Energy, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Bajura, has conducted SORA's annual conference. Along with state regulators, this national event has included representatives from the private sector that supply the materials and technologies used in the manufacture and installation of subsurface sewage disposal systems."

In addition to NESC and EPA, the other original partners included: 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. Joining the partnership at the November 19 event were: the Water Environment Research Foundation, the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators, the Groundwater Protection Council, the State Onsite Regulators Alliance, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations.

Press Release Contact: Jennifer Hause, (304) 293-4191 ext. 5564 or e-mail: jhause@mail.wvu.edu

Posted December 1, 2008


NESC Joins National Collaborative
Invited to Participate in the Source Water Collaborative

Morgantown, W.Va.—West Virginia University's National Environmental Services Center (NESC) was recently invited to join the Source Water Collaborative, a national effort committed to protecting America's drinking water at the source—in the lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers we tap for drinking water. Originally formed in 2006, the collaborative is made up of 21 members including federal, state, and non-profit organizations.

"For millenia, civilization has been intrinsically linked with reliable water sources," says Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC's executive director. "Today, we are no less reliant on water but, thanks to technology, we are perhaps less aware of its role in our lives. Protecting this essential resource should be a top priority for any community. And, for a modest investment of time and money, it will pay handsome dividends in lower water treatment costs, economic development opportunities, and overall quality of life."

"NESC's SMART About Water program is a great example of how this kind of partnership can work," Iwan continues. "For the past year, we've been working with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide source water protection planning in 245 communities across the country."

Each national organization in the Source Water Collaborative understands and appreciates the importance of source water protection. Each also recognizes that resources are extremely limited, authorities are split, and the actors who can actually protect source waters are diffuse. By joining forces, the collaborative builds on the different organizations' resources and strengths to increase the chances for success as opposed to each entity going it alone.

Press Release Contact: Gerald Iwan, (304) 293-4191 ext. 5584 or e-mail: gerald.iwan@mail.wvu.edu

Posted December 1, 2008


NESC to Help West Virginia Bureau of Public Health
State Grant Will Develop Online Assessment Tool, Training Program

Morgantown, W.Va.—The National Environmental Services Center (NESC) was recently awarded nearly $400,000 from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (BPH) to help drinking water systems assess their financial and managerial status.

With the BPH grant, NESC will develop an online assessment tool that will allow state drinking water systems to input data to determine how healthy they are with respect to their finances and management. Along with this assessment tool, NESC will create a six-part curriculum designed to train local officials about topics ranging from budgeting to personnel issues to public relations.

"A professional workforce and well operated system are essential in the provision of good drinking water and safeguarding public health," says Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC director. "And, while larger systems have many resources and staff with expertise in biology, chemistry, engineering, computer applications, and other disciplines, small systems—such as those common in West Virginia—usually have only one or two employees. To help bridge this gap, NESC is creating a comprehensive Water System Evaluation Tool and a Utility Management Training Institute program for the state's drinking water systems."

BPH Logo

The online evaluation tool will be developed over the winter and piloted in 10 communities beginning in spring 2009. Meanwhile, the utility management training program, modeled on a collaboration between Western Kentucky University and the Kentucky Rural water Association, will be tested at six locations around West Virginia prior to being completed in 2009.

Located at West Virginia University, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) helps small and rural communities with their water, wastewater, management, infrastructure security, and solid waste challenges. To learn more about NESC, call (304) 293-4191. or e-mail info@mail.nesc.wvu.edu.

The Bureau for Public Health (BPH) implements West Virginia's Capacity Development Program with a mandated mission to help the state's water systems acquire and maintain the technical, managerial, and financial wherewithal needed to meet the requirements of public drinking water statutes and regulations. To learn more about BPH, visit their Web site at www.wvdhhr.org/bph/.

Posted October 31, 2008


Helpful Products for Small Communities

The links to products in this section provide informational resources, available from the NESC SMART About Water project, that are related to these issues and can be used to assist small communities and individuals learn what they can do to help their community and the environment. Provided by the SMART About Water project at the National Environmental Service Center (NESC), in collaboration with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), this project helps small communities understand the concept of Source Water Protection and wellhead protection.

Posted October 31, 2008


Protecting Your Community's Water
NESC Training Helps Watershed Groups, Local Leaders

Ed - Training with NESCMorgantown, W.Va.—Malfunctioning septic systems can pollute groundwater and recreational waters and encourage algae growth and other problems in lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and coastal waters. However, the high cost of sewers and centralized wastewater treatment plants limits communities in their efforts to address their wastewater treatment needs.

On September 18 and 19, 2008, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) hosted Smart Solutions for West Virginia, a training session that provided information and innovative approaches for reducing water pollution through better management of wastewater treatment systems. Designed for community volunteers, watershed groups, and local officials, the session provided participants with tools and knowledge to implement management programs within their local watersheds.

Ed - training with NESC"Effective wastewater management is an integral component of maintaining good water quality," said Graham Knowles, program coordinator with NESC. "Onsite and clustered wastewater systems—commonly called septic systems—serve nearly one-fourth of U.S. households and up to 33 percent of new development. More than half of these systems are more than 30 years old and surveys indicate at least 10 percent may not be functioning properly."

State and local governments are now looking to innovative treatment systems and management options to help reduce or eliminate problem systems. Some communities have built advanced sewage treatment systems and created management entities as a long-term, reliable solution for areas without central sewer systems.

Other communities are enhancing existing programs to help homeowners better manage their septic systems. The key to achieving effective performance of decentralized sewage treatment from the simplest "box and rocks" septic tank and drainfield system to the most complex treatment and dispersal unit is an effective management plan. This strategy must consider a number of critical elements such as planning, site conditions, risk factors, system design, and operation and maintenance, all of which comprise a management program.

Posted October 8, 2008


$1 Million for NESC's Drinking Water Clearinghouse
Grant Continues Service to America's Small Communities

Thanks to a million dollar grant provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Utilities Service, the National Environmental Services Center's (NESC) National Drinking Water Clearinghouse (NDWC) will continue to offer free and low-cost information and assistance to small towns and rural areas across the country. Based at West Virginia University, the clearinghouse is now entering its 17th year.

"We are pleased that Rural Development has once again recognized and supported our work assisting small communities with their drinking water issues," said Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC's executive director. "With more stringent regulations, rising fuel costs, and a host of water quality issues, the services we provide have never been more critical."

To help small communities address their drinking water needs, NESC's National Drinking Water Clearinghouse offers a free technical assistance hotline, the quarterly magazine On Tap, a comprehensive Web site (www.nesc.wvu.edu), and more than 400 free and low-cost educational products.

NESC's staff of engineers, water system operators, and specialists provide information about subjects such as: household wells, source water protection and conservation issues, water treatment technologies, treatment plant operation and management, updates about regulations, and funding sources for community water infrastructure.

"Over the past 16 years, we've expanded our services greatly," Iwan said. "What hasn't changed, though, is our commitment to providing assistance, solutions, and knowledge for solving small community environmental challenges. If you have a drinking water question or problem, we encourage you to contact us first."

Posted September 5, 2008


WVU's NESC Trains Source Water Specialists - Seminar Will Help Small Communities Address Water Quality

SMART Seminar Photo by John Fekete

Morgantown, W.Va.—On August 5, 6, and 7, 2008, West Virginia University’s National Environmental Services Center (NESC) hosted a national training seminar about developing source water protection plans in America’s small communities.

The seminar—a key activity in the SMART About Water program, a $3 million, 18-month grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—featured NESC staff working with Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) trainers and source water specialists from around the country. These trainers will go on to assist small communities in their efforts to create their own source water protection plans, with a special focus on addressing untreated wastewater from failing septic systems.

“Nothing is more important than a clean, safe supply of water,” said Gerald Iwan Ph.D., NESC’s executive director. “

SMART Seminar Photo by John Fekete

Good water is the key to a host of other issues, including quality of life, public health, environmental protection, and economic development. And, because failing wastewater systems are the main water pollution problem in many communities, correcting this situation is a logical first step.”

The seminar focused on ways that community leaders can develop source water protection plans to improve water quality in their communities. The training also showed how social marketing techniques—an innovative approach that uses commercial marketing tools to stimulate community action—can be used to achieve source water protection goals. By next summer, NESC and RCAP expect to have offered training and technical assistance about source water protection in nearly 250 communities in each of the 50 states.

Posted August 8, 2008


The NESC Offers Drinking Water Operator Certification Information Online
We recognize the significance of operator training and education because the health of a community relies on having competent drinking water treatment operators. Drinking water operator certification requirements vary from state to state. Make sure you check with the primacy agency in your state to get accurate information about the requirements you will need to be familiar with. This Web page provides many resources about drinking water operator certification.

Posted August 2, 2008