Water Quality

One Water Webinar

One of the most exciting paradigm shifts in One Water management is the integration of smaller onsite systems that collect, treat, and reuse water within individual buildings or at the local scale. As an emerging innovation, the success of onsite non-potable water systems depends on strong collaboration between municipal utilities and public health agencies to ensure projects protect public  health and meet water quality standards.

SepticSmart Week

SepticSmart week icon: technician with clipboardSepticSmart Week

NEHA is raising awareness for SepticSmart Week from September 17 - 21, 2018, alongside the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). 

SepticSmart Week is focused on getting homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. During SepticSmart Week, the U.S. EPA provides information to homeowners on proper septic system care and maintenance, helps local agencies promote homeowner education and awareness, and educates local decision makers about wastewater infrastructure. 

More than one in five households in the United States depend on a septic system to treat their wastewater. When used properly, septic systems help protect public health by reducing the risk of disease transmission, protect the environment, and reduce costs to the community from large infrastructure and energy needed to collect and treat large amounts of wastewater. Being septic smart, or knowledgable about septic systems, is a good way for homeowners to lengthen the lifespan of their septic systems by keeping them regularly maintained and knowing when to contact a septic system service professional if a probelm occurs. 

This annual event educates homeowners, communities, and provides tools for local organizations to promote septic awareness. Visit the SepticSmart Week homepage for a complete list of resources or see some of the highlighted resources below. 

Septic Systems Outreach Toolkit

SepticSmart Infographic

SepticSmart Homeowners 

Learn About Septic Systems

 

NEHA offers extensive information on wastewater and septic systems as well as provides educational resources for those interested in learning more. 

Available Wastewater Resources & Programs

 

EH Topics: 

Legionella

New Initiative

Legionella Program Survey Available Now - Share Your Experience
 
In response to the significant increase in the number of reported cases of legionellosis over the past two decades, NEHA is conducting a nationwide assessment of the role of environmental health programs in Legionella outbreak investigations and mitigation. This includes programs at both the local and state levels, focusing on program components, successes and challenges, and needed resources.
 
NEHA is seeking information from environmental health professionals with the goal of using responses to identify best practices in developing a model Legionella program. If you are part of an organization or health department that has an existing Legionella program in place or has an interest in developing one, please consider participating in our survey to aid NEHA in its environmental scan. Your responses are greatly appreciated!

Legionella Program Survey 


Overview

In 2015, there were approximately 6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported, according to the CDC. Additionally, the rate of legionellosis cases reported quadrupled from 2000 to 2014. Because the disease is often underdiagnosed, this number is most likely an underestimate of the true number of cases. Legionella is bacteria that is naturally-occurring in fresh water aquatic systems and becomes a risk when it enters human-made water and plumbing systems. It thrives in warm water environments and is known to grow in hot tubs, spas, pools, fountains, ice machines, and faucets.

The Legionella bacteria was first discovered in 1976 in Philadelphia during an American Legion Convention. Many participants at the convention became ill with a type of pneumonia, which was later found to be caused by the respiration and inhalation of water droplets containing the Legionella bacteria.

The respiration or inhalation of water droplets or aerosols containing the bacteria can lead to community-acquired pneumonia, or Legionnaires’ disease along with Pontiac Fever which is a milder form of legionellosis that presents flu-like symptoms. There are over 60 species of Legionella, with six different serogroups that can cause disease in humans but most cases of legionellosis are caused by Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, the pneumonic form of Legionella.

Environmental Health Significance

Because Legionella is a recently-emerging environmental health issue, the resources and materials available to address the concerns presented by the bacteria are insufficient. The significant increase in reported legionellosis cases over the last two decades results in a demand for more comprehensive public and environmental health programs to target the risks associated with Legionella. In addition, further education and training for public and environmental health professionals around building water systems and premise plumbing is necessary to develop programs for preventing and mitigating these risks.

What roles do environmental health programs play in the prevention and investigation of Legionella?

In many instances, environmental health programs serve as a nexus - bringing together information from academia, industry, clinicians, and the community to address environmental issues that impact public health. This is especially true with legionella -- where ongoing research, diagnosis, and industry practices evolve daily. NEHA in continuing to engage all of these sectors in identifying and developing best practices, impactful partnerships, and applying the latest research.  Our initial scan has identified the following needs and core competencies needed for a well -rounded program.

 

Programs lack:

  • Funding
  • Training & education available to health departments
  • Guidelines for program implementation
  • Standards & policies regulating Legionella
  • Authority to enforce rules and regulations

Necessities of a functioning program:

  • Knowledge of water management plans
  • Outbreak investigation kits (water sampling & testing)
  • Multi-disciplinary team members
  • Collaboration among levels of government & sharing of information
  • Compliance from building owners/managers and facility operators

New and Upcoming Resources


CDC Legionnaires' Disease Factsheet

 

 

EH Topics: 

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