As residential development continues to extend from metropolitan areas, home builders and developers are increasingly relying on onsite water-disposal systems, and especially septic tanks, for wastewater treatment. They're cheaper to install than long lateral pipes, they hook up to nearby municipal sewer systems, and they allow for less time between plat design and home construction.

Unfortunately, many county health officials view onsite waste treatment as a second choice to central waste-treatment systems. Practically every local and state health official is either working to develop new regulations to upgrade their ground water or watching the effects in those states where new standards have just been enacted.

Soon, due to stricter standards, health officials may have the assurance that by including a certified effluent filter the septic tank they approve will probably operate properly for its full design life.

Establishing the protocol and procedures that will allow regulators and consumers to rate filters is a three-step process. First a joint committee agrees upon a draft document. "Standard 46: Evaluation of Components and Devices Used in Wastewater Treatment Systems" already covers grinder pumps and will be expanded to cover the other types of septic tank filtration systems and related wastewater treatment equipment.

Once the committee agrees upon a draft document, the Council of Public Health Consultants (CPHC) reviews its work. Upon the council's approval, the NSF Board reviews the document. With the NSF's approval, it becomes an NSF/ANSI standard. Even after the standard becomes official, the volunteers on the committee keep working to improve it.

One controversial aspect of the proposed standard is the evaluation protocol to be used in each effluent filter's ability to retain solids. Filter manufacturers are struggling to develop a balance between a filter design that is effective in retaining solids from the field, yet pumping contractors want a filter that can go a reasonable amount of time between servicing.

All filter designs will be tested when the standard is adopted.

Keywords: Effluent, filter, septic, Cole Concrete Products, NSF, Council of Public Health Consultants, CPHC, water, Polylock, Zabel, Zoeller