The effectiveness of education as a tool to manage onsite septic systems.

Position:Practical Stuff!

* 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...

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