Environmental Protection

WERF Seeks GHG Emissions from Septic System Proposals

The Water Environment Research Foundation is seeking proposals for research that will provide wastewater managers with a better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions from septic systems, according to a March 24 press release.

The project will generate hard data, instead of the current assumptions, so that wastewater utilities can better gauge their greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and the contributions from septic systems.

Prior estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, using assumptions under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC’s) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, suggest that 76 percent of the wastewater sector’s methane emissions are from septic systems. However, the U.S. EPA methodology assumes that all wastewater carbon in anaerobic systems converts to methane and that all methane produced enters the atmosphere. Recent studies suggest that is not the case. The actual levels of methane production are still in question.

Under this research effort, WERF will obtain data on the emissions of methane from septic systems under several common configurations and identify any degradation pathways that might exist. In addition, the selected team will investigate the variety and effectiveness of existing controls and provide an analysis of the methane production, capture, and control of common septic tank designs.

The data obtained by the team should allow it to calculate more accurate methane emissions from septic systems and compare them to the IPCC estimates. This research is integral to WERF’s ongoing efforts to study the carbon footprint of wastewater sector services, specifically greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater collection and treatment.

Submit proposals by 4 p.m. (EDT), April 20.

Go to http://www.werf.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Funding/OpenRFPs/default.htm to access the complete request for proposals. Contact WERF program director Lauren Fillmore at lfillmore@werf.org for more information on this research effort or the proposal process.

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