But our work is not done. Water bodies that appear clean to the naked eye often contain pollutants that require constant and advanced treatment. Because of this, NEIWPCC has expanded the focus of our wastewater division to cover a broad range of issues.
NEIWPCC plays an important role in the training and certification of wastewater treatment plant operators in our member states. Our Regional Training Program offers a wide variety of courses for operators at locations throughout New England and New York. The program typically conducts 50–70 courses per year that attract more than 1,500 students.
This includes a significant role sponsoring or supporting programs that prepare operators to move into management. With many plant managers at or approaching retirement age, it’s essential to prepare talented operators to step into their shoes.
Our wastewater division has also expanded its focus to include such related issues as collection systems, certification, residuals, emerging contaminants, and technical assistance. NEIWPCC is also actively working on issues associated with smaller onsite or decentralized wastewater treatment systems, typically called septic systems. There are enormous water quality issues associated with them that are only beginning to be understood.
Workgroups are our primary tool for fostering collaboration on important wastewater issues. Wastewater Division staff meet regularly with representatives from the New England states, New York State, the EPA, and other involved organizations. Group members exchange information and ideas on current issues, initiatives, and technical projects. We have workgroups devoted to wastewater training and technical assistance, onsite wastewater, collection systems, discharge permits, emerging contaminants, certification, underground storage tanks, and residuals.
Underground storage tanks or USTs have been a focus at the Commission since 1984, when NEIWPCC, EPA, the states, tribes, and other partners began working together to prevent, detect, and clean up leaks from the tanks, whose contents can seep into soil and contaminate groundwater. NEIWPCC has long been a sponsor of the National Tanks Conference and Exposition. Since 2006, the Commission has taken on the lead role for developing and coordinating the event, which is widely recognized as the place for the nation’s UST community to focus on progress and priorities.
NEIWPCC also coordinates an UST, LUST, and State Fund Workgroup; publishes LUSTLine, a national bulletin on tanks issues; and provides critical assistance to member states working to develop federally required training programs for UST owners and operators. NEIWPCC is also working with state and EPA staff to develop and provide UST inspector training opportunities for state programs nationwide.
For more information, contact Tom Groves, NEIWPCC’s director of wastewater and onsite programs.
NEIWPCC produces publications and resources for both environmental professionals and the public. A number of these focus on wastewater and onsite topics and are listed below. A complete list of all our technical publications are located here.