Preparedness & Response for Septic Systems

After a disaster, such as a hurricane, wildfire, or earthquake, septic systems may be damaged and fail to operate correctly. Ensuring that these systems function properly is essential to providing safe waste disposal for millions of Americans, yet there may be no standard safety protocol in place for using septic systems after a disaster occurs.

The NEHA worked with subject matter experts and national partners to develop an easily accessible toolkit with guidance documents for different types of disasters.

  • Each guide focuses on steps septic system users can take before, during, and after a disaster to protect their health and maintain their system.
  • There are two guidance documents included for each disaster area, a longer version with more detailed information and explanations and a shorter version with a checklist and step-by-step instructions.
  • A document containing general educational and safety resources for septic systems is also included to supplement all of the guidance resources.

Guidance and Fact Sheets for Septic Systems

These materials will be available for local agencies to supply to residents before or after a disaster or directly to septic system users. The guidance and checklist are intended for septic system users to be prepared and use before, during, and after a disaster. Understanding septic system type, location, and components before a disaster occurs will make these guides and fact sheets more useful.


The purpose of the committee is to develop emergency preparedness materials based on best practices and evidence-based methods to assist septic system users before, during, and after disaster situations. The committee identified five areas identified for their scope including: hurricanes and flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, winter weather, and power outages.

Committee Members

Craig Paul
Public Health Program Manager
South Central Public Health District
Environmental Health and Preparedness

Jim Bell
National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association

Jeremy Simmons
Wastewater Management Section Manager
Washington State Department of Health

John Hayes
Environmental Program Manager
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Groundwater Discharges Section

Zachary Lowenstein
Environmental Scientist
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Wastewater Management, Water Infrastructure Division

Roxanne L. Groover
Executive Director
Florida Onsite Wastewater Association

Richard Jefferson
Los Angeles County Public Health
Land Use Program

Roy Kroeger
Environmental Health Supervisor
Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department

Sara Simmonds
Supervising Sanitarian
Kent County Health Department
Environmental Health Division