Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Forest Resource Management

Committee Chair

Tim Phipps


According to the United States Environmental Protections Agency (USEPA), nearly one in four households in the United States depends on an individual septic system (commonly referred as an onsite system or a decentralized wastewater system) to treat and disperse wastewater. More than half of these systems are over 30 years old, and surveys indicate at least 10 to 20% might not be functioning properly. The USEPA concluded in its 1997 report to Congress that adequately managed decentralized wastewater systems (DWS) are a cost-effective and long-term option for meeting public health and water quality goals, particularly in less densely populated areas.;The major challenge however is the absence of a guiding national regulatory framework based on consistent performance-based standards and lack of proper management of DWS. These inconsistencies pose a significant threat to our water resources, local economies, and public health. This dissertation addresses key policy and regulatory strategies needed in response to the new realities confronting decentralized wastewater management. The two core objectives of this research are to demonstrate the centralized management of DWS paradigm and to present a scientific methodology to develop performance-based standards (a regulatory shift from prescriptive methods) using remote monitoring.;The underlying remote monitoring architecture for centralized DWS management and the value of science-based policy making are presented. Traditionally, prescriptive standards using conventional grab sampling data are the norm by which most standards are set. Three case studies that support the potential of remote monitoring as a tool for standards development and system management are presented. The results revealed a vital role for remote monitoring in the development of standardized protocols, policies and procedures that are greatly lacking in this field.;This centralized management and remote monitoring paradigm fits well and complements current USEPA policy (13 elements of management); meets the growing need for qualitative data (objective and numerical); has better time efficiencies as real-time events are sampled and translated into machine-readable signals in a short period of time; allows cost saving rapid response to system recovery and operation; produces labor and economic efficiencies through targeted responses; and, improves the quality and operational costs of any management program.;This project was funded by the USEPA grant # C-82878001 as part of the National Onsite Demonstration Project (NODP), West Virginia University.