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Home > Issues > Benefits of Onsite-Decentralized Wastewater Treatment > Providing Wastewater Treatment to 85 Million Americans

Providing Wastewater Treatment to 85 Million Americans



  • In 1997, EPA recognized decentralized wastewater systems as a permanent part of national wastewater infrastructure.

  • According to EPA, onsite systems treat more than 4 billion gallons of wastewater daily. NOWRA data indicates an even higher number. Using the US Geological Survey's estimate of per capita water use in the US of 80-100 gallons per day, we estimate that number is between 6.8 billion and 8.5 billion gallons per day.

  • Most onsite systems serve individual residences, but there are thousands of larger-scale onsite systems in operation around the country. These larger systems (also called decentralized or distributed treatment systems) serve commercial developments like shopping centers, restaurants, industrial parks, residential subdivisions and even entire communities.

  • Tennessee alone has more than 1,000 large onsite systems in operation around the metro areas of Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis and elsewhere in the state.

  • When the economy is strong, the onsite and decentralized wastewater industry generates more than $5 billion in economic activity annually. Sources of that activity include new system installations, repairs and replacements of existing systems, maintenance contracts, and tank pumping.

  • Onsite and decentralized systems are directly responsible for up to 150,000 private sector jobs. With the exception of the regulatory community, virtually every job generated by the onsite industry is located in the private sector. Our industry is one of the pistons in the small business job growth engine.