Water Quality

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: 


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 


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: 

Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code Voting Guide

Vote on the Code!

The Model Aquatic Health Code provides national guidance for the creation and updating of  aquatic facility regulations around the country. The Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC) works to regularly update the MAHC through the collection and analysis of  code change requests. This allows for the collection and analysis of data-driven, science-based information from public health and aquatic industry experts and helps to keep the MAHC current, sustainable, easily understood and implemented. 

Every other year, The CMAHC invites public health and industry leaders to gather at the Vote on the Code Biennial Conference for discussion and member voting on new language and content for the MAHC. The next vote is coming up this October 17 & 18th at the Vote on the Code Conference, held in conjunction with the World Aquatic Health Conference. This year, there are 179 change requests that are up for voting by the CMAHC membership. NEHA has reviewed the requests and identified 66 that likely or possibly have environmental public health impacts. An overview of those change requests can be found below or printed for an easy voting reference.  A larger voting guide for the environmental public health elements is also available,which includes the rationale for the decision and future action to be taken. The full listing of all change requests is also available.

Change Request #


Relevance to Environmental Health

TRC Recommendation

NEHA Recommendation Revises definition for paint as indoor VOC vapor retarder. Possible YES YES Revises language around air handling system codes. Possible NO NO Adds latching to door reference. Possible YES YES Revises language for aquatic venue shape. Possible YES YES Further defines swimouts. Possible YES YES
4.5.4-0001 Standardizes stair requirements. Possible YES YES Standardizes stair requirements. Possible YES YES Standardizes stair requirements. Possible NO NO Clarifies language for projections/obstructions. Possible YES YES- as modified Improves underwater bench definition. Possible NO NO Limits hydrotherapy jets to spas and therapy pools. Possible NO NO Clarifies definition of underwater ledges. Possible NO NO
4.5.18-0001 Eliminates allowance for underwater shelves. Likely NO NO Adds requirement for rope designation between pool areas. Possible NO NO Clarifies depth marker units. Possible NO NO Clarifies lighting requirements.  Possible NO NO Adds annex section on SCRS devices. Possible YES YES
4.7.3.-0001 Adds allowance for new filtration technology. Possible NO NO Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely YES YES Eliminates loopholes for chemical feeder requirements. Likely NO NO Eliminates free available chlorine dosing requirement. Possible YES YES Eliminates free available chlorine dosing requirement. Possible YES YES - as modified Provides alternatives to secondary disinfection for small pools. Possible NO NO Change secondary disinfection requirements. Possible YES YES- as modified Clarifies full flow treatment. Possible YES YES- as modified Require UV secondary treatment for splash/spray areas. Likely YES YES- as modified Require shutdown if UVT is less than minimum transmissivity.  Likely YES YES- as modified Secondary treatment filtration options. Possible NO NO Clarify language on filtration. Possible YES YES Limits wing wall use. Possible NO NO Stair requirement for 3m diving stands. Possible NO NO
4.8.4-0001 Stair requirement for pool slide. Possible NO NO Clarifies lifeguard chair requirements. Possible NO NO Additional latching requirements. Possible YES YES Adapts lazy river lifeguarding operations. Possible YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely NO NO Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely YES YES- as modified Add requirements for stabilizer certification. Possible YES YES- as modified Lower CA stabilizer limit. Likely ABSTAIN YES Add requirement for pool grade salt. Possible YES YES- as modified Addition for ozone generator feedback. Possible NO NO Compressed oxygen NSF 50 Possible NO NO Add NSF/ANSI certification requirement. Possible YES YES- as modified Reduce minimum pH to 6.8. Possible NO NO Add NSF/ANSI certification requirement. Possible YES YES Require continuous monitoring of UVT. Possible YES Yes Notation of FAC or ORP/HRR prior to opening each day. Possible NO NO Addresses lifeguard UV exposure. Possible YES YES Provides guidance on spinal injury board construction. Possible YES YES Ensure provision of needed lifeguard equipment. Possible YES YES Ensure easy access to lifejackets. Likely YES YES
6.0.1-0001 Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely NO NO Ensure lifeguard instructors maintain high training quality. Possible NO NO Ensure lifeguard instructors maintain high training quality. Possible NO NO Ensure lifeguard instructor is present for entire course. Possible YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely NO NO
6.3.2-0001 Clarifies needed number of lifeguards. Possible YES YES Facility attributes requiring qualified lifeguards. Possible YES YES Facility attributes requiring qualified lifeguards. Possible NO NO Clarifies needed number of lifeguards. Possible YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely YES YES- as modified Alter crypto/diarrhea hyperchlorination protocol. Possible YES YES Protocols to mitigate chlorine gas exposure. Likely NO NO
EH Topics: 

Tribal Water Program Improvement Resource Kit

Tribal Water Program Improvement Resource Kit

The resources collected below can be useful in creating or improving private drinking water programs. 

For environmental health professionals or homeowners that are new to private drinking water wells, we recommend taking free Private Well Class. The Private Well Class is being provided to NEHA at no-charge by the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center at the University of Illinois. The funding for the Private Well Class program comes from the USEPA through a cooperative agreement with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. Originally intended for well owners, this course has proven to be a resource for EH professionals for basic well and groundwater understanding. The class consists of 10 courses that can be taken in sequence or individually and are eligible for one (1) CE each from NEHA.

Community Outreach & Risk Communication

Methods of Effective Homeowner Outreach

Well Water Community Action Toolkit


Protection Our Water: Preventing Contamination 

Source Water Assessment & Protection 

Partnership & Stakeholder Development

Partnership Contact List

Potential Stakeholders

Stakeholder Mapping

Policy & Regulation Development

Drafting Tribal Public Health Law & Policy

Components of a Local Well Construction Ordinances

Private Well Testing & Test Interpretation

Interpreting Test Results

Private Well Testing - Connecticut

Program Development

Community Environmental Health Assessments

Community Environmental Health Assessment Toolbox - New Mexico

Indian Community Health Profile Project Toolkit

Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH)

Performance Standards

Core Competencies for Environmental Health Professionals

Environmental Public Health Perfomance Standards 2.0

Program Assessment

Environmental Health Program Assessment Tool

Private Drinking Water Program Assessment Tool

Quality Improvement

Roadmap to Culture of Quality Improvement


Technical Resources

Arsenic Contamination Removal

Coliform and Bacteria in Private Wells

Nitrates in Drinking Water Wells

PFOA & PFOS Advisory

Private Well Disinfection 

Private Well Flood Recovery

Radium in Drinking Water

EH Topics: 

Small Systems Monthly Webinar Series

The montly webinar series is providing a forum for EPA to communicate directly with state personnel and other drinking water small systems professionals, which allows EPA to provide training and foster collaboration and dissemination of information.

This month: Decision Support Methodology for Small Systems to Evaluate and Select Treatment Technologies.