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What types of wastewater systems do we have in the National Park Service?

The National Park Service has a great number of service and facilities spread across a very large area. In situations where there are no piped water systems or soil conditions are unsuitable, what types of human waste handling systems does the service use?

Are the National Park Service wastewater systems properly operated to be in compliance with the USEPA and State requirements?

Is anyone in the National Park Service doing inspections or audits to determine compliance/noncompliance?

Where can I find specific information about wastewater systems in parks?

We are having a temporary event in our Park. How many porta-potties do we need?


Q.
What types of wastewater systems do we have in the National Park Service?
A.

We have many different types of wastewater collection systems and many more types of wastewater treatment plants.

The collection systems include gravity collector sewers (the most common type), pressure sewer systems with grinder pumps, and vacuum sewer systems.

The wastewater treatment systems include septic tank - leachfield systems (the most common type), mound systems, evapotranspiration beds, lagoons, intermittent sand filters, activated sludge package plants, stick built plants, physical chemical plants, sequential batch reactors, effluent reuse, and discharge to neighborhood municipal systems.


Q.
The National Park Service has a great number of service and facilities spread across a very large area. In situations where there are no piped water systems or soil conditions are unsuitable, what types of human waste handling systems does the service use?
A.
The National Park Service uses several types of human waste handling facilities to include vault toilets, composting or dehydrating toilets, electric incineration toilets, and as a last resort, pit privies. On some types of group trips, the outfitter is required to provide portable toilets and the waste is hauled out to a suitable disposal location.

Q.
Are the National Park Service wastewater systems properly operated to be in compliance with the USEPA and State requirements?
A.
In the National Park Service's Director's Order 83, all wastewater disposal systems having an EPA or State wastewater discharge permit are required to have certified operators. Also, all wastewater systems serving 100 or more persons per day are required to have certified operators.

Q.
Is anyone in the National Park Service doing inspections or audits to determine compliance/noncompliance?
A.
Yes, Regional Public Health Consultants and Park Sanitarians complete regular inspections to determine if wastewater systems are causing any public health problems or if there are any regulatory compliance issues. Also, the National Park Service has an environmental compliance audit team of specialists conducting park-by-park audits of environmental compliance issues, which would include wastewater disposal practices.

Q.
Where can I find specific information about wastewater systems in parks?
A.
The park maintenance staffs have inventory data regarding their facilities. The Denver Service Center Technical Information Center (TIC) has "as-built" drawings of park facilities on microfilm. Also, the NPS regional offices are compiling a computer database called MAXIMO to capture data on park facilities. The Regional Public Health Consultants are also compiling basic facilities information on wastewater systems.

Q.
We are having a temporary event in our Park. How many porta-potties do we need?
A.
The number of porta-potties needed depends on the size of the event, length of event, number of times units are pumped during the event. A good reference can be found: Portable Sanitation Association International, (800) 822-3020.
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