A new agreement between NAHB and the Environmental Protection Agency gives rural and suburban home builders and developers a seat at the table when it comes to making rules for the 22% of new homes served by decentralized wastewater – or septic – systems.
NAHB has signed on to the Decentralized Wastewater Management Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with EPA and other partners including the federalCenters for Disease Control and Prevention to work collaboratively with engineers, designers, installers and maintenance operators in the industry as well as state and local regulators to improve the systems’ overall performance and management.
It’s good news for builders who have been stymied by local regulators when they try to make plans in areas not served by municipal water systems. Lingering misconceptions about cost, liability, environmental impact and other issues, as well as outdated regulations that apply to older, less sophisticated septic systems, tend to hamper development.
An MOU renewal signing ceremony recently took place at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. NAHB was joined by two new signatories: the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).
“Of our new partners, I’m particularly excited to have NAHB join this partnership,” said EPA Office of Water Deputy Assistant Administrator Ken Kopocis. “There is probably no other association with such a presence across the country who can help make a difference in decentralized wastewater system technology and education.”
NAHB and the signatory organizations will work collaboratively to:
- Develop effective mechanisms for information exchange on program activities, regulations and plans for engaging members in decentralized system activities.
- Continue collaborative efforts to develop training, credentialing and certification programs to improve consistency and competency among practitioners.
- Develop a public awareness effort to promote improved system performance and management.
- Develop materials for organizations interested in considering, planning or implementing decentralized systems for community wastewater treatment.
HBA of Delaware members Jim McCulley and Bob Thornton came to the signing ceremony. “NAHB is proud to be one of the signatories to this MOU because we believe that a commitment to decentralized wastewater is important for rural and suburban development, but also because it is crucial to water quality and water quantity concerns as we move into the future,” said McCulley, an environmental scientist.
Thornton, a builder and a licensed wastewater operator, has worked with Delaware engineers to develop an innovative decentralized wastewater systems and treat wetlands. “It is my hope that through the NAHB endorsement of this MOU, we can educate the public, regulators, and local and state government officials about the environmental benefits of decentralized wastewater,” he said.