workshop at the Huntsman Site

Huntsman On-site Wastewater Demonstration Site

collage of Huntsman Demonstration Site photos


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.

Site Layout

map of Huntsman Site
  1. Parking Lot
  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
  11. Valve Box for Alternative Systems
  12. Utah/Earth-Fill Absorption System
  13. "At-Grade" Absorption System
  14. Mound Absorption System
  15. Component Display Area
  16. Outdoor Classroom
  17. Bathrooms
  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,