NSF International’s American National Standards for wastewater evaluate the ability of wastewater treatment technologies to protect surface and groundwater

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — To further protect surface and ground water quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a model program for onsite wastewater treatment systems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to help states reduce excessive nutrients, such as nitrogen, from entering the Bay from onsite or septic systems. NSF International’s Wastewater Standards are referenced in the EPA model program as a basis to evaluate treatment technologies intended to help protect human health and the environment from inadequately treated wastewater.

The model program is part of the EPA’s collaboration with state and local partners to reduce nitrogen releases from onsite treatment systems. The model program will help enable an executive order that President Obama signed in 2009 recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure and calling on the government to protect and restore the nation’s largest estuary and its watershed.

“We support EPA’s move to further protect our nation’s water supply as it aligns with NSF International’s commitment to protect and improve environmental health,” said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF’s Sustainability Division.  “EPA’s model program for improving our nation’s onsite wastewater infrastructure references NSF International’s American National Standards (ANSI) wastewater standards as the basis to evaluate the proper selection, use and management of onsite, decentralized treatment systems.”  

According to the EPA, about 20 percent of U.S. residences collectively discharge four billion gallons of sewage daily into onsite systems, and it is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent may not be adequately treating wastewater. When properly designed, sited and maintained, decentralized systems can treat wastewater effectively and protect surface water and groundwater from pollutants, nutrients and emerging contaminants.

For the past 40 years, NSF International has helped to address this issue, developing 12 American National Standards for drinking water and wastewater treatment to assess a system’s ability to remove contaminants. This includes NSF/ANSI Standard 245: Wastewater Treatment Systems – Nitrogen Reduction, which establishes performance test requirements for residential wastewater treatment systems designed to provide nitrogen reduction, and NSF/ANSI Standard 360: Field Performance Verification that establishes consistent site selection, sampling, lab analysis and data evaluation methods for obtaining field performance results for onsite wastewater treatment systems.

Both NSF standards referenced in EPA’s model program evaluate systems sized between 400-1500 gallons per day and require compliance with NSF/ANSI Standard 40: Residential Wastewater Treatment Systems. This standard establishes base performance criteria for residential treatment systems required by most U.S. states and counties.

NSF International has supported all stakeholders, including the onsite wastewater treatment industry, government agencies and consumers with third-party product testing and certification to consensus-based NSF American National Standards. Systems bearing the NSF Certification Mark have demonstrated product performance and reliability to national standards, as well as widespread acceptance of innovative water treatment technologies.

NSF International continues to expand its water and environmental expertise through its sustainability division. NSF also has developed a standard and certification program for residential and commercial onsite water reuse treatment systems to ensure systems properly treat graywater and combined wastewater.

For more information about NSF’s wastewater programs, visit nsf.org/info/wastewater, call Sharon Steiner at 734-827-6846 or e-mail wastewater@nsf.org.  For more information on NSF’s Sustainability Division, visit nsfsustainability.org or contact Dennis Gillan at 734-476-2543 or sustainability@nsf.org.

Editor’s note: To schedule an interview with NSF Sustainability General Manager Tom Bruursema, contact Greta Houlahan at houlahan@nsf.org or 734-913-5723.

About NSF International: NSF International (nsf.org) has been testing and certifying products for safety, health and the environment since 1944. As an independent public health and safety organization, NSF’s mission is to protect human health and the environment through standards development, auditing, testing and certification for the food, water, build/construction, retail, consumer products, chemical and health science industries. NSF International has been collaborating with the World Health Organization since 1997 in water quality and safety, food safety and indoor environments and operates in more than 150 countries. NSF also has a long history in onsite wastewater treatment, spanning the past 40 years. Collectively, NSF's services deliver confidence to consumers, assurance of performance to public health officials, and market access for product manufacturers in the onsite wastewater treatment industry.

NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains. NSF also founded the National Center for Sustainability Standards, a national initiative to support the development of sustainability standard activities. Additional services include certification, testing and auditing programs for the water, food and health sciences industries; management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd. (NSF-ISR); organic certification provided by QAI (Quality Assurance International) and training courses through NSF Education and Training.