Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Program
The Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Program provides formal classroom and field training, as well as technology transfer, to Utah and other Rocky Mountain region regulators, consultants, contractors, and other stakeholders in on-site wastewater treatment systems.
Certification Class Contact:
On-Site Wastewater Expert:
Funding for the Center is generously provided by:
Dates for 2018 Certification Classes are coming soon.
New online registration will also be available.
Since 2011, all on-site wastewater certification and renewal of certification workshops are DOPL-approved for continuing education credit for contractors and plumbers. For more information contact Judy Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your support and continued interest in on-site wastewater treatment issues in Utah!
Since 1998, the Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Program, located at Utah State University's, Utah Water Research Laboratory, has provided training to health department staff, site evaluators, general contractors, engineers, system designers and others in on-site wastewater treatment. In 2001, the state initiated a certification program for on-site wastewater treatment professionals and the training program provides training workshops in support of that certification program.
Those involved in the development of new housing sites, including system designers, installers, regulators and city and county planners are trained in correct principles of planning, design, material and systems selection, and system installation for on-site wastewater treatment systems currently allowed under Utah code. These programs provide public education, awareness, and training in installation and operation that can help to reduce misuses and failures of on-site wastewater treatment systems.
Dates for the 2018 On-Site Wastewater Treatment Certification Workshops will be available soon.
2017 certification classes and registration are now closed.
Please register early! Attendance in the classes listed in the original schedule will be a "first-come, first served" basis. If you are registering for a renewal or certification class within two weeks of the start date of the class, please contact Ivonne Harris at (435) 797-3693 or email@example.com to find out if registration spaces are still available.
Please prepare for the workshops by becoming familiar with the Certification Requirements and the Utah Administrative Code, Rule R317-4/Onsite Wastewater Systems: http://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r317/r317-004.htm
Reminder: you must fill out the last two pages of the registration form and return to Ivonne Harris.
In 2001 the Utah Legislature passed a bill establishing a requirement that persons who design, inspect, or maintain underground wastewater disposal systems (also referred to as septic or on-site wastewater treatment systems), and/or conduct percolation tests or soil evaluations for these systems, must be certified by the State of Utah.
Certification requires completion of training and examination by the Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Program through Utah State University, followed by application to the Division of Water Quality. Contact Judy Etherington, (801-536-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Division of Water Quality for more information on state certification.
Beginning July 1, 2009, the Division was required to verify the lawful presence in the United States of individuals at least 18 years of age (including sole proprietor doing business under an assumed name) who have applied for Onsite Professional certification, Wastewater Operator certification, or who have applied for Federal SRF funding. A Citizenship/Alien ID Certification Form must be completed, notarized, and submitted to the Division along with a copy of photo identification such as a driver license, passport, or similar.
Citizen Certification Form
All on-site wastewater certification and renewal of certification workshops are continuing education credit approved by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) for licensed contractors and plumbers.
DOPL course numbers and credits for the various classes:
Level 1 Certification
(Course Number 12415)
- 3 hours core
- 3 hrs professional
- 3 hours core
- 3 hrsprofessional
Level 2 Certification
(Course Number 12483)
- 3 hours core
- 3 hours professional
- 8 hours core
- 4 hours professional
Level 3 Certification
(Course Number 12551)
- 3 hours core
- 3 hours professional
- 8 hours core
- 4 hours professional
Levels 1 & 2 Renewal
(Course Number 12417)
- 6 hours core
Level 3 Renewal
(Course Number 12427)
- 6 hours core
UOWA 2017 Conference
The 2017 Annual Conference of the Utah On-Site Wastewater Association was held on February 16-17, 2017 at the Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan, Utah.
For more information about this conference, contact:
Tracy Richardson (UOWA Chair)
Please support UOWA by becoming a member.
Contact Ivonne Harris at email@example.com for more information.
The Utah On-Site Wastewater Association (UOWA) was created to address the needs of the diverse group of people involved with on-site wastewater treatment and disposal. This association benefits individuals involved in land development, real estate, system design, installation, inspection, regulation, percolation testing, septic tank pumping services, system repair, education, manufacturing, and sales, as well as municipal authorities, homeowners, elected officials, and any others with an interest in on-site wastewater treatment systems.
Participation in this organization promotes and advances on-site wastewater treatment in Utah by:
- Providing timely input to Utah policy makers concerning on-site wastewater regulations and policies.
- Providing a forum for open dialogue of ideas, information, and technology transfer.
- Keeping members informed about advances in on-site wastewater treatment.
- Promoting opportunities for professional on-site wastewater practitioners and other audiences to upgrade skills and increase their knowledge and awareness of on-site wastewater issues through training, certification, and education.
- Evaluating on-site technologies for potential use in Utah.
The Huntsman On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training and Demonstration Site was constructed on the campus of Utah State University in Logan, Utah, with financial assistance from the Huntsman Environmental Research Center (HERC). Additional funding was provided by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and Kennecott Utah Copper. The site includes field models and demonstrations of on-site wastewater systems. These models are used to enhance classroom lectures, for learners remember more of what they see, hear, and do than what they remember of what they only hear.
On-site wastewater treatment systems, commonly called "septic systems," treat sewage from homes and businesses that are not connected to a centralized wastewater treatment plant. The systems include conventional septic tank/leach fields, as well as alternative systems for sites that are unsuitable for the use of conventional systems. On-site wastewater treatment systems are used by 30-60 percent of households in six of the twelve local health department regions in Utah. Approximately 3,500 new systems are added annually to the existing 70,000+ on-site systems operating in Utah. When properly sited, installed, operated, and maintained, an on-site wastewater treatment system can be an effective means of domestic sewage treatment.
As Utah's population grows and housing expands into previously uninhabited areas, on-site wastewater treatment system use will expand. However if improperly designed, installed, or maintained, these systems can fail, resulting in back-up of wastewater into the house or in wastewater ponding on the surface in the yard. Failing on-site systems can result in contamination of surface waters, ground water, and surface soils and result in risk of human exposure. Contamination can also adversely affect drinking water sources.
The lack of public education and awareness and training in installation and operation procedures contributes to misuse and failures of on-site wastewater treatment systems. Therefore, there is a need for those involved in the development of new housing sites or in the repair of failing systems, including system designers, installers, regulators, and city and county planners, to be trained in correct principles of planning, design, material and systems selection, and system installation for on-site wastewater treatment systems currently allowed under Utah regulatory code or with high potential for use in the near future.
To meet these training needs, the Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Center was established in January, 1998, at the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) at USU. The Training Center provides workshops and other training materials for persons involved in all aspects of on-site wastewater treatment. The Huntsman On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training and Demonstration Site is a critical hands-on component of the Training Center.
2. Display Area
3. Water Reservoir
4. Reservoir Pump
5. Septic Tank for Conventional Systems
6. Distribution Box for Absorption Trenches
7. Gravel Absorption Trench
8. Gravel-less (Chamber) Absorption Trech
9. Distribution Box for Absorption bed
10. Absorption Bed
12. Utah/Earth-Fill Absorption System
13. "At-Grade" Absorption System
14. Mound Absorption System
15. Component Display Area
16. Outdoor Classroom
18. Storage Shed
19. Soil Texture Demonstration Area
20. Pump Training Area
For further information about the Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Center please contact Ms. Judith L. Sims, Research Associate Professor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Societies and Associations
Rules and regulations for installation and inspection of on-site wastewater systems in Utah and Idaho.
The Utah links lead directly to R317 guidelines and the Idaho link allows for the local health district to be selected.
Utah Rules and Regulations
Utah Administrative Code R317-11. Certification Required to Design, Inspect and Maintain Underground Wastewater Disposal Systems, or Conduct Soil Evaluations or Percolation Tests for Underground Wastewater Disposal Systems
Idaho Rules and Regulations
USU Professor Judith L. Sims served as an elected board member of the National Wastewater Recycling Association from 2008 until 2010. See Article in Utah State Today.
The Utah Water WaTCH
The Utah WaTCH provided information about development of the On-Site Training Program, regulatory information updates, news, and general on-site wastewater information.
Volume 1, No. 1 (Aug 1998)
Volume 1, No. 2 (Dec 1998)
Volume 1, No. 3 (Jun 1999)
Volume 1, No. 4 (Oct 1999)
Volume 2, No. 1 (Mar 2000)
Developmental Senior Design Team Projects
Senior Design Team 1999-2000: Development of On-Site Wastewater Training Site Design
The 1999-2000 Senior Design Team consisted of three members: Aaron Swank, Alan Miller, and Matthew Perry. The team developed and designed the future site of the Utah On-Site Wastewater Training Center that will aid in education and training of installers, inspectors, educators, and homeowners. The site includes training areas for conventional and alternative treatment systems, as well as areas for hands on experience in soil characterization(USCS Soil Classification Method) and pump sizing and maintenance.
Figure 1. Site Layout for the Utah 0n-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Program Site.
Each component of the Training Center was designed and drawn per Utah regulations for a 3 bedroom house situated on the soil found at the Orchard Site.The absorption systems will include "cut-away manholes" in order for visitors to the site to see "into" each type of system and better understand the processes taking place. Figure 2 shows an example of the "cut-away manholes" for the conventional systems.
Figure 2. Conventional Bed and Trench Absorption Systems with "Cut-Away" Manholes.
The second component of the Senior Design Project was developing the On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Center website for outreach and continuing eucation purposes. The webpage will be updated by future Senior Design teams and the Training Center staff as the Orchard Site is further developed.
Senior Design Team 1998-1999: Development of Educational Tools for the Training Center
The 1998-1999 Senior Design Team consisting of five undergraduate students majoring in environmental engineering at Utah State University, designed and built several models to illustrate construction requirements of the mound system, which is an alternative on-site system that is being used in several areas in Utah. The students prepared the models as part of their Senior Design Project. The Senior Design Project within the College of Engineering is a yearlong academic course in which students work in teams to obtain hands-on experience with regard to three elements of engineering practice: (1) designing; (2) building; and (3) testing an applied engineering system.
Figure 3. Mound System.
The physical models consist of a table-top mound system that includes a profile that demonstrates the layering of materials in the construction of a mound. In addition, three plexiglass tabletop box models were constructed to demonstrate water flow through a typical mound. These models are used to illustrate the importance of plowing on water flow. The preparation of the interface between the mound sand fill material and the natural soil surface is critical to movement of treated wastewater into underlying soil. The interface must be gradual and diffuse to ensure that water moves into the soil and does not flow down the interface and cause failure at the toe of the mound. Such an interface is prepared by mixing the sand fill material with the underlying soil by plowing. The models include:
Non-sloped, plowed -- This model demonstrates the ease of water flow from the mound fill material into the underlying natural soil in a system built on level ground and with plowing of the fill/soil interface.
Sloped, plowed -- As with Model No. 1, even when the mound system is built on a sloping site, proper preparation of the fill/soil interface will ensure infiltration of the treated wastewater into the underlying soil.
Sloped, non-plowed -- This model, in which the mound fill and the natural underlying soil are not mixed, demonstrates the flow of water along the sloping and abrupt fill/soil interface, illustrating the potential for surfacing of the treated wastewater at the toe of the mound.
Figure 4. Sloped, Non-Plowed Mound Model. (Constructed by USU Senior Design Team).
Figure 5. Graphical Representation of a Mound System.
Figure 6. Table-Top Mound Model.
In addition, the computer model of a pressurized distribution system developed by last year's Senior Design Team was modified to make it more user-friendly and to provide a more useful output for designers of mound systems. The program is used to calculate the required number, size, and spacing of orifices in the pipes so that uniform distribution of wastewater effluent is maintained throughout the piping
The members of the Environmental Engineering Senior Design Team included: David Norman (Group Leader), Lance Allen, Shannon Johnson, Jeff Miner, and Ryan Roberts.
Senior Design Team 1997-1998: Development of Training Models
Five undergraduate students majoring in environmental engineering at Utah State University assisted the training center during the 1997-1998 academic year by developing practical training aids that included both physical and computer models of on-site treatment systems. The students prepared the models as their Senior Design Project. The Senior Design Project within the College of Engineering is a year-long academic course that allows students to work in teams to obtain hands-on experience with regard to three key elements of engineering practice: (1) designing, (2) building, and (3) testing an applied engineering system. Students work with faculty, staff, and industry personnel to consider project scoping, manpower and materials budgeting, project scheduling, design calculations, construction quality control, and testing procedures.
Figure 7. Pilot Scale Absorption Field Trenches.
Pilot-scale soil absorption field trenches to demonstrate the greater uniformity of flow in pressurized distribution systems than in conventional gravity-flow system. -- Two trenches were constructed in 2 ft (w) x 2 ft (d) x 20 ft (l) wooden boxes. The trenches were backfilled with gravel to a depth of two feet. For the gravity flow system, conventional 4-inch PVC pipe with perforations was laid on the surface of the gravel. The conventional gravity-flow trench is supplied water via a wooden reservoir. Water from the reservoir, simulating intermittent effluent flow from a septic tank, flows by gravity into the absorption trench.
Low-pressure dosing system -- The low-pressure pipe dosing system was constructed of 2-inch PVC pipe with 3/8 inch perforations. This pipe laid on the surface of the gravel, and fill materials were placed around the pipe to prevent splashing of the water. Water is distributed to this system from a garden hose under low pressure to simulate septic tank effluent dosed from a pumping chamber. In both systems, plexi-glass windows built into the sides of the trenches allow visual observation of the absorption bed.
Construction of bench-scale models -- Bench-scale, portable soil absorption field trenches to demonstrate the greater uniformity of flow in pressurized distribution systems than in conventional gravity-flow systems. A bench-scale demonstration model of gravity flow and pressurized flow was also constructed. The size of this model, including both flow systems, is 2 ft x 4 ft x 6 in and weighs approximately 25 pounds. It is also used to demonstrate the difference in flow distribution under gravity feed and under low-pressure distribution conditions. Movement of water can be seen by direct observation through clear plastic tubes as well as in wetting fronts as the soil moves through the "soil" (florist's floral foam). This smaller-sized bench-scale model can be easily transported to other sites for training.
Both the pilot-scale and bench-scale models demonstrate the greater level of uniformity in flow distribution along the pipe in the low-pressure system than through gravity flow.
Computer computational model of a low-pressure system to theoretically test pipe design -- The number, size, and spacing of orifices affect the head pressure that must be maintained in the pipe to achieve uniform distribution of effluent throughout the piping system. This software can be used to vary these parameters and obtain the desired outflow. It is a working program but is presently being modified to make it more user-friendly. The members of the 1997-98 Environmental Engineering Senior Design Project included: Byron Colton (Group Leader), Morgan Atkinson, Ross Gleason, Micah Nielsen, and Brent Seeley. Their advisor was Dr. Ronald C. Sims.
For further information about the "UTAH ON-SITE WASTEWATER TREATMENT TRAINING CENTER" please contact Judith L. Sims, Research Associate Professor, email@example.com.