Pollution Prevention in Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) P2 Outreach and Education

Reaching Residential Customers with Home*A*Syst

What is Home*A*Syst?

Home*A*Syst is a voluntary program that helps homeowners and renters evaluate health and environmental risks associated with their everyday household activities. Home*A*Syst is designed to help households understand those risks and take action to eliminate them.

A guidebook, Home*A*Syst: An Environmental Risk Assessment for the Home, can be used in rural, suburban and urban households. It is applicable for any state or community. In addition, thirty-one states have programs that can provide additional educational and technical resources, including staff. Each chapter was written by recognized specialists from universities and agencies around the country. Home*A*Syst is an interagency initiative of USDA and EPA.

How does Home*A*Syst work?

Home*A*Syst uses a formula of education, evaluation and action. The guidebook contains:

* information about the environmental and health risks related to household structures and activities, such as yard and garden management,

* assessment worksheets that enable the family to evaluate their own risk for pollution,

* tools to develop an individual action plan to reduce or eliminate the identified risks,

* pollution prevention strategies and contacts to get more help.

Home*A*Syst covers the following topics:

  • Site Assessment
  • Stormwater Management
  • Drinking Water Well Management
  • Household Wastewater
  • Lead In and Around the Home
  • Hazardous Household Products
  • Yard and Garden Care
  • Liquid Fuels
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Heating and Cooling Systems
  • Household Waste Management.

Home*A*Syst is supported by USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

How can Home*A*Syst help a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) with residential customers?

Home*A*Syst is designed to support and augment a wide range of local, regional and state programs and services. Electronic files allow for easy customization of Home*A*Syst materials. The entire guidebook can be used, or chapters can serve as stand-alone documents. Selected chapters can be packaged for a specific audience such as waterfront property owners.

Residential customers can be hard to reach when it comes to reducing toxics and other unwanted substances in sewage and stormwater systems. Often people are totally unaware of the impacts their household practices can have on a treatment facility. Five Home*A*Syst chapters can help citzens become active partners in preventing pollution at their local POTW.

Down the drain

Want to change what's going down those residential drains? Two chapters that can help are "Household Wastewater: Septic Systems and Other Treatment Methods" and "Managing Hazardous Household Products." While the household wastewater chapter focuses primarily on septic systems, part of this chapter looks at sewage system inputs including water, solids and harmful chemicals. If you also treat septage at your facility, this entire chapter will be helpful. The safe management of household hazardous products is covered from purchase to disposal.

Into the storm sewer

Contaminated runoff from residential property can create additional headaches for your operation. Whether you operate combined or separate stormwater systems, Home*A*Syst can help you reduce sediments, solids, toxics and nutrients from residential sources. Chapter One, "Site Assessment: Protecting Water Quality Around Your Home," provides background information on physical characteristics of the homesite such as soil types, depth to bedrock and groundwater, and location of wetlands, streams and lakes.

The chapter on stormwater management covers two areas: 1) reducing pollutants in runoff, like pesticides, chemicals, automotive wastes, yard and pet wastes, and salts and deicers; and 2) landscaping and site management to control runoff. Yard and garden management can have an large impact on residential runoff. The yard and garden care chapter looks at pesticides, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion, yard wastes and water conservation.

E-mail: homeasys@uwex.edu

Website: http://www.uwex.edu/homeasyst