* Although onsite septic systems present an important source of contamination to receiving waters, they are given relatively little regulatory attention.
* The magnitude and impact of the overall problem are often unclear.
* Also, there may be no regulatory authority or funding to implement an active local enforcement program.
* There may be little public sentiment supporting active enforcement.
* Hence, local health departments rarely aggressively pursue active management of onsite septic systems.
* They usually operate a permitting system that requires initial installation to be done appropriately.
* Some health departments also regularly look for failing systems.
* But most agencies are directly involved only during initial siting and installation, or if a failure is detected.
* Typically, failure is identified only sporadically, following gross pollution or other unusual circumstances.
* Some local health departments turn to education to address the problem.
* It would be convenient to be able to control this pollution source through voluntary behavior supported by relatively inexpensive delivery of educational materials and programs.
* The study reported here measured linkages between delivery of educational materials and individual-household management practices.
* It was hypothesized that providing education, including mechanisms for low-cost interventions, would change household behavior.
* Information about onsite-system management was provided on a door-to-door basis at homes throughout northwest Ohio.
* Efforts were made to maximize the ease and value of the education.
* Personalized examinations and discussion of individual onsite septic systems were provided.
* Reading materials were provided at various levels of complexity to meet individual needs.
* Individuals receiving the educational program reported increased understanding of the need to maintain their systems.
* But the...