• Akpor, O. B., 2011: Wastewater effluent discharge: Effects and treatment processes. 2011 3rd International Conference on Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, IPCBEE, Vol. 20, IACSIT Press, 85–91, http://ipcbee.com/vol20/16-ICBEE2011E20001.pdf.

  • Allen, T. R., T. Crawford, B. Montz, J. Whitehead, S. Lovelace, A. D. Hanks, A. R. Christensen, and G. D. Kearney, 2018: Linking water infrastructure, public health, and sea level rise: Integrated assessment of flood resilience in coastal cities. Public Works Manage. Policy, 24, 110–139, https://doi.org/10.1177/1087724X18798380.

  • Amador, J., G. Loomis, and K. Kalen, 2014: Soil-based onsite wastewater treatment and the challenges of climate change. Proc. Innovation in Soil-Based Onsite Wastewater Treatment, Albuquerque, NM, Soil Science Society of America, 6–11, https://www.soils.org/files/meetings/specialized/full-conference-proceedings.pdf.

  • Azam, R., A. Pandey, P. N. Black, V. V. Tyagi, and R. Kothari, 2019: Bioprocesses for wastewater reuse: Closed-loop system for energy options. Water Conservation, Recycling and Reuse: Issues and Challenges, R. P. Singh, A. S. Kolok, and S. L. Bartelt-Hunt, Eds., Springer, 121–145.

  • Braun, V., and V. Clarke, 2006: Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual. Res. Psychol., 3, 77101, https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • City of Folly Beach, 2019: Water, sewer, and septic. City of Folly Beach, South Carolina, https://cityoffollybeach.com/city-departments-services/utilities/water-sewer-and-septic/.

  • Cooper, J. A., G. W. Loomis, D. V. Kalen, and J. A. Amador, 2015: Evaluation of water quality functions of conventional and advanced soil-based onsite wastewater treatment systems. Environ. Qual., 44, 953962, https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2014.06.0277.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cooper, J. A., G. W. Loomis, and J. A. Amador, 2016: Hell and high water: Diminished septic system performance in coastal regions due to climate change. PLOS ONE, 11, e0162104, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0162104.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cox, A. H., G. W. Loomis, and J. A. Amador, 2019: Preliminary evidence that rising groundwater tables threaten coastal septic systems. J. Sustainable Water Built Environ., 5, 04019007, https://doi.org/10.1061/JSWBAY.0000887.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cox, A. H., M. J. Dowling, G. W. Loomis, and S. E. Engelhart, 2020a: Geospatial modeling suggests threats from stormy seas to Rhode Island’s coastal septic systems. J. Sustainable Water Built Environ., 6, 04020012, https://doi.org/10.1061/JSWBAY.0000917.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cox, A. H., D. Surabian, G. W. Loomis, J. D. Turenne, and J. A. Amador, 2020b: Temporal variability in the vertical separation distance of septic system drainfields along the southern Rhode Island Coast. Water Air Soil Pollut., 231, 107, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-020-04488-z.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Danilenko, A., E. Dickson, and M. Jacobsen, 2010: Climate change and urban water utilities: Challenges and opportunities. World Bank Water P-Notes 50, 4 pp., https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/11696/558280BRI0PNOT1Box349457B001PUBLIC1.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.

  • Department of Health and Environmental Control, 2016: Onsite wastewater systems. South Carolina Regulation 61-56, Statutory Authority: 1976 Code Sections 44-1-140 (11), 44-1-150, and 48-1-10 et seq.61-56, approved 11 May 2016, 111 pp., https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/Regulations/R.61-56.pdf.

  • Easterling, D. R., and Coauthors, 2017: Precipitation change in the United States. Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Vol. 1, U.S. Global Change Research Program, 207–230, https://doi.org/10.7930/J0H993CC.

  • EPA, 2002: On-site wastewater treatment systems manual. U.S. EPA Rep. EPA/625/R-00/008, 369 pp., https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/30004GXI.PDF?Dockey=30004GXI.PDF.

  • EPA, 2022: About septic systems. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/septic/about-septic-systems.

  • Fisher, I. J., P. J. Phillips, K. M. Colella, S. C. Fisher, T. Tagliaferri, W. T. Foreman, and E. T. Furlong, 2016: The impact of onsite wastewater disposal systems on groundwater in areas inundated by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Mar. Pollut. Bull., 107, 509517, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.04.038.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frankson, R., K. Kunkel, L. Stevens, D. Easterling, W. Sweet, A. Wootten, and R. Boyles, 2017: North Carolina state climate summary. NOAA Tech. Rep. NESDIS 149-NC, 4 pp., https://statesummaries.ncics.org/chapter/nc/.

  • Garner, A. J., and Coauthors, 2017: Impact of climate change on New York City’s coastal flood hazard: Increasing flood heights from the preindustrial to 2300 CE. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 114, 11 86111 866, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1703568114.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Habel, S., C. H. Fletcher, K. Rotzoll, and A. I. El-Kadi, 2017: Development of a model to simulate groundwater inundation induced by sea-level rise and high tides in Honolulu, Hawaii. Water Res., 114, 122134, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2017.02.035.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harrison, J., and Coauthors, 2022: Climate change and onsite wastewater treatment systems in the Coastal Carolinas. North Carolina Sea Grant UNC-SG-22-08 Rep., 91 pp., https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Project-Report_Climate-septic_FINAL_8.31.2022.pdf.

  • Hawkins, M. D., V. Brown, and J. Ferrel, 2017: Assessment of NOAA National Weather Service methods to warn for extreme heat events. Wea. Climate Soc., 9, 513, https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-15-0037.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hughes, J., K. Cowper-Heays, E. Olesson, R. Bell, and A. Stroombergen, 2021: Impacts and implications of climate change on wastewater systems: A New Zealand perspective. Climate Risk Manage., 31, 100262, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2020.100262.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hummel, M. A., M. S. Berry, and M. T. Stacey, 2018: Sea level rise impacts on wastewater treatment systems along the U.S. coast. Earth’s Future, 6, 622633, https://doi.org/10.1002/2017EF000805.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, C. P., Jr., 2009: Controls on septic system wastewater treatment and shallow groundwater quality in Coastal North Carolina. Ph.D. dissertation, East Carolina University, 206 pp., http://hdl.handle.net/10342/2826.

  • Humphrey, C. P., Jr, and M. A. O’Driscoll, 2011: Evaluation of soil colors as indicators of the seasonal high water table in coastal North Carolina. Int. J. Soil Sci., 6, 103113, https://doi.org/10.3923/ijss.2011.103.113.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, C. P., Jr, M. A. O’Driscoll, and M. A. Zarate, 2011: Evaluation of on-site wastewater system Escherichia coli contributions to shallow groundwater in coastal North Carolina. Water Sci. Technol., 63, 789795, https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2011.310.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, C. P., Jr, E. Anderson-Evans, M. O’Driscoll, A. Manda, and G. Iverson, 2015: Comparison of phosphorus concentrations in coastal plain watersheds served by onsite wastewater treatment systems and a municipal sewer treatment system. Water Air Soil Pollut., 226, 2259, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-014-2259-4.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, C. P., G. Iverson, and M. A. O’Driscoll, 2017: Nitrogen treatment efficiency of a large onsite wastewater system in relation to water table dynamics. Clean Soil Air Water, 45, 1700551, https://doi.org/10.1002/clen.201700551.

  • IPCC, 2018: Summary for policymakers. Global Warming of 1.5°C, V. Masson-Delmotte et al., Eds., Cambridge University Press, 32 pp., https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/05/SR15_SPM_version_report_LR.pdf.

  • IPCC, 2019: Summary for policymakers. Climate Change and Land, P. R. Shukla et al., Eds., Cambridge University Press, 36 pp., https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/4/2020/02/SPM_Updated-Jan20.pdf.

  • Iverson, G., M. A. O’Driscoll, C. P. Humphrey Jr., A. K. Manda, and E. Anderson-Evans, 2015: Wastewater nitrogen contributions to coastal plain watersheds, North Carolina, USA. Water Air Soil Pollut., 226, 325, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-015-2574-4.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Iverson, G., C. P. Humphrey Jr., M. H. Postma, M. A. O’Driscoll, A. K. Manda, and A. Finley, 2017: Influence of sewered versus septic systems on watershed exports of E. coli. Water Air Soil Pollut., 228, 237, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-017-3426-1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jalowska, A. M., T. L. Spero, and J. H. Bowden, 2021: Projecting changes in extreme rainfall from three tropical cyclones using the design-rainfall approach. npj Climate Atmos. Sci., 4, 23, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41612-021-00176-9.

  • Jiricka-Purrer, A., M. Leitner, H. Formayer, T. F. Wachter, and A. Prutsch, 2018: Mainstreaming climate change adaptation in infrastructure planning–lessons learned from knowledge transfer and communication. Addressing the Challenges in Communicating Climate Change across Various Audiences, W. Leal Filho, B. Lackner, and H. McGhie, Eds., Climate Change Management, Springer, 399–416, https://doi-org.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/10.1007/978-3-319-98294-6_24.

  • Keremane, G., 2015: Role of sustainability policy entrepreneurs in building water-sensitive cities to respond to climate change: A case study in Adelaide, Australia. Managing Water Resources under Climate Uncertainty: Examples from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia, S. Shrestha et al., Eds., Springer, 359–375.

  • Kettle, N. P., K. Dow, S. Tuler, T. Webler, J. Whitehead, and K. M. Miller, 2014: Integrating scientific and local knowledge to inform risk-based management approaches for climate adaptation. Climate Risk Manage., 45, 17–31, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crm.2014.07.001.

  • Kirchhoff, C. J., and P. L. Watson, 2019: Are wastewater systems adapting to climate change? J. Amer. Water Resour. Assoc., 55, 869880, https://doi.org/10.1111/1752-1688.12748.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kohler, L. E., J. Silverstein, and B. Rajagopalan, 2016: Modeling on-site wastewater treatment system performance fragility to hydroclimate stressors. Water Sci. Technol., 74, 29172926, https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.2016.467.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kunkel, K. E., and Coauthors, 2020: North Carolina climate science report. North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies Rep., 233 pp., https://ncics.org/nccsr.

  • Kyzar, T., 2021: Assess vulnerability of OSTDS to SLR and storm surge to develop adaptation plans phase 1. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Rep., 66 pp., https://www.citystaug.com/DocumentCenter/View/4839/Assess-Vulnerability-of-OSTDS-to-SLR-and-Storm-Surge-to-Develop-Adaptation-Plans-PDF.

  • Linder, J., and V. Campbell-Arvai, 2021: Uncertainty in the “new normal”: Understanding the role of climate change belief and risk perceptions in Michigan tree fruit growers’ adaptation behaviors. Wea. Climate Soc., 13, 409422, https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0058.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Little, C. M., R. M. Horton, R. E. Kopp, M. Oppenheimer, G. A. Vecchi, and G. Villarini, 2015: Joint projections of US East Coast sea level and storm surge. Nat. Climate Change, 5, 11141120, https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2801.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manda, A. K., M. S. Sisco, D. J. Mallinson, and M. T. Griffin, 2015: Relative role and extent of marine and groundwater inundation on a dune-dominated barrier island under sea-level rise scenarios. Hydrol. Processes, 29, 18941904, https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.10303.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manyuchi, M. M., N. Mupoperi, C. Mbohwa, and E. Muzenda, 2019: Treatment of wastewater using vermifiltration technology. Water Conservation, Recycling and Reuse: Issues and Challenges, R. P. Singh, A. S. Kolok, and S. L. Bartelt-Hunt, Eds., Springer, 215–230.

  • Miami-Dade County, 2018: Septic systems vulnerable to sea level rise. Miami-Dade County Final Rep. R-911-16, 66 pp.

  • Miller, H., 2022: Town of Nags Head North Carolina decentralized wastewater management plan. Tetra Tech Engineering Rep., 232 pp., https://nagsheadnc.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/3913?fileID=6074.

  • National Science and Technology Council, 2012: The National Global Change Research Plan 2012–2021: A strategic plan for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. U.S. Global Change Research Program National Coordination Office Doc., 150 pp., https://downloads.globalchange.gov/strategic-plan/2012/usgcrp-strategic-plan-2012.pdf.

  • NCEI, 2020: U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. NOAA, https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/.

  • North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, 1942: 15A North Carolina Administrative Code 18A: Modifications to septic tank systems. Environmental health, subchapter 18a—sanitation, section 1900—sewage treatment and disposal systems, effective 4 April 1990, 71 pp., https://ehs.dph.ncdhhs.gov/oswp/docs/rules/1900RulesApril2017.pdf.

  • North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, 1956: 15A North Carolina Administrative Code 18A: Modifications to septic tank systems. Environmental health, subchapter 18a—sanitation, section 1900—sewage treatment and disposal systems, effective 4 April 1990, 6 pp., http://reports.oah.state.nc.us/ncac/title%2015a%20-%20environmental%20quality/chapter%2018%20-%20environmental%20health/subchapter%20a/15a%20ncac%2018a%20.1956.pdf.

  • North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, 1961: 15A North Carolina Administrative Code 18A: Modifications to septic tank systems. Environmental health, subchapter 18a—sanitation, section 1900—sewage treatment and disposal systems, effective 4 April 1990, 4 pp., http://reports.oah.state.nc.us/ncac/title%2015a%20-%20environmental%20quality/chapter%2018%20-%20environmental%20health/subchapter%20a/15a%20ncac%2018a%20.1961.pdf.

  • O’Driscoll, M. A., C. P. Humphrey Jr., N. E. Deal, D. L. Lindbo, and M. A. Zarate-Bermudez, 2014: Meteorological Influences on nitrogen dynamics of a coastal onsite wastewater treatment system. J. Environ. Qual., 43, 18731885, https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2014.05.0227.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Paerl, H. W., N. S. Hall, A. G. Hounshell, R. A. Luettich Jr., K. L. Rossignol, C. L. Osburn, and J. Bales, 2019: Recent increase in catastrophic tropical cyclone flooding in coastal North Carolina, USA: Long-term observations suggest a regime shift. Sci. Rep., 9, 10620, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46928-9.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parris, A., and Coauthors, 2012: Global sea level rise scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment. NOAA Tech. Rep. OAR CPO-1, 37 pp., https://scenarios.globalchange.gov/sites/default/files/NOAA_SLR_r3_0.pdf.

  • Piecuch, C. G., P. Huybers, C. C. Hay, A. C. Kemp, C. M. Little, J. X. Mitrovica, R. M. Ponte, and M. P. Tingley, 2018: Origin of spatial variation in US East Coast sea-level trends during 1900–2017. Nature, 564, 400404, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0787-6.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Potter, S., S. Harrison, and P. Kreft, 2021: The benefits and challenges of implementing impact-based severe weather warning systems: Perspectives of weather, flood, and emergency management personnel. Wea. Climate Soc., 13, 303314, https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-20-0110.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rahimi, R., H. Tavakol-Davani, C. Graves, A. Gomez, and M. F. Valipour, 2020: Compound inundation impacts of coastal climate change: Sea-level rise, groundwater rise, and coastal precipitation. Water, 12, 2776, https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102776.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reidmiller, D., and Coauthors, 2018: Fourth National Climate Assessment. Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States, Vol. II, U.S. Global Change Research Program, 1515 pp., https://doi.org/10.7930/NCA4.2018.

  • Rosenzweig, C., D. C. Major, K. Demong, C. Stanton, R. Horton, and M. Stults, 2007: Managing climate change risks in New York City’s water system: Assessment and adaptation planning. Mitigation Adapt. Strategies Global Change, 12, 13911409, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-006-9070-5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rudberg, P. M., O. Wallgren, and A. G. Swartling, 2012: Beyond generic adaptive capacity: Exploring the adaptation space of the water supply and wastewater sector of the Stockholm region, Sweden. Climatic Change, 114, 707721, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0453-1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Runkle, J., K. Kunkel, L. Stevens, R. Frankson, B. Stewart, and W. Sweet, 2017: South Carolina State Climate Summary. NOAA Tech. Rep. NESDIS 149-South Carolina, 4 pp., https://statesummaries.ncics.org/downloads/SouthCarolina-StateClimateSummary2022.pdf.

  • SCDHEC, 2019: Septic tanks: Frequently asked questions. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, https://scdhec.gov/environment/your-home/septic-tanks/septic-tanks-frequently-asked-questions.

  • Severson, E. D., 2021: Sea level rise and its impact on septic systems in coastal communities in North Carolina. NC State University Onsite Wastewater Extension Program Continuing Education Workshop, Raleigh, NC, North Carolina State University, https://events.reporter.ncsu.edu/wastewater-ce/.

  • Severson, E. D., D. L. Lindbo, and M. J. Vepraskas, 2008: Hydropedology of a coarse-loamy catena in the lower Coastal Plain, NC. Catena, 73, 189196, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2007.09.001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Singh, N. K., G. Gupta, A. K. Upadgyay, and U. N. Rai, 2019: Biological wastewater treatment for prevention of river water pollution and reuse: Perspectives and challenges. Water Conservation, Recycling and Reuse: Issues and Challenges, R. P. Singh, A. S. Kolok, and S. L. Bartelt-Hunt, Eds., Springer, 81–93.

  • Singh, S., and S. Tiwari, 2019: Climate change, water and wastewater treatment: Interrelationship and consequences. Water Conservation, Recycling and Reuse: Issues and Challenges, R. P. Singh, A. S. Kolok, and S. L. Bartelt-Hunt, Eds., Springer, 203–214.

  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, 2020: Welstrom: Well and septic tank referencing and online mapping. Southern Georgia Regional Commission, https://www.welstrom.com/help.html.

  • Strauss, B., C. Tebaldi, and S. Kulp, 2014: North Carolina and the surging sea: A vulnerability assessment with projections for sea level rise and coastal flood risk. Climate Central Rep., 29 pp., https://sealevel.climatecentral.org/uploads/ssrf/NC-Report.pdf.

  • Sweet, W. V., and J. Park, 2014: From the extreme to the mean: Acceleration and tipping points of coastal inundation from sea level rise. Earth Future, 2, 579600, https://doi.org/10.1002/2014EF000272.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sweet, W. V., G. Dusek, J. Obeysekera, and J. J. Marra, 2018: Patterns and projections of high tide flooding along the U.S. coastline using a common impact threshold. NOAA Tech. Rep. NOS CO-OPS 086, 56 pp., https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/techrpt86_PaP_of_HTFlooding.pdf.

  • Town of Nags Head, 2021: Todd D. Krafft Septic Health Initiative program. Town of Nags Head, https://www.nagsheadnc.gov/280/Septic-Health-Initiative-Water-Quality.

  • Tripathi, M. P., Y. Bisen, and P. Tiwari, 2019: Reuse of wastewater in agriculture. Water Conservation, Recycling and Reuse: Issues and Challenges, R. P. Singh, A. S. Kolok, and S. L. Bartelt-Hunt, Eds., Springer, 231–258.

  • Tryhorn, L., 2010: Improving policy for stormwater management: Implications for climate change adaptation. Wea. Climate Soc., 2, 113126, https://doi.org/10.1175/2009WCAS1015.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uccellini, L. W., and J. E. Ten Hoeve, 2019: Evolving the National Weather Service to build a Weather-Ready Nation: Connecting observations, forecasts, and warnings to decision-makers through impact-based decision support services. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 100, 19231942, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0159.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uittenbroek, C. J., L. B. Janssen-Jansen, and H. A. C. Runhaar, 2013: Mainstreaming climate adaptation into urban planning: Overcoming barriers, seizing opportunities and evaluating the results in two Dutch case studies. Reg. Environ. Change, 13, 399411, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-012-0348-8.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WMO, 2015: WMO guidelines on multi-hazard impact-based forecast and warning services. WMO Doc. WMO-1150, 34 pp., https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=7901.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 519 519 88
Full Text Views 140 140 25
PDF Downloads 68 68 10

Climate Change and Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems in the Coastal Carolinas: Perspectives from Wastewater Managers

Lauren VorheesaNorth Carolina Sea Grant, North Carolina State University, North Carolina

Search for other papers by Lauren Vorhees in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9758-6874
,
Jane HarrisonaNorth Carolina Sea Grant, North Carolina State University, North Carolina

Search for other papers by Jane Harrison in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Michael O’DriscollbEast Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

Search for other papers by Michael O’Driscoll in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Charles Humphrey Jr.bEast Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

Search for other papers by Charles Humphrey Jr. in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Jared BowdencDepartment of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, North Carolina

Search for other papers by Jared Bowden in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

Nearly one-half of the residents of North and South Carolina use decentralized or onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS). As the climate changes, coastal communities relying on OWTS are particularly vulnerable, as soil-based wastewater treatment may be reduced by water inundation from storm surge, sea level rise and associated groundwater rise, and heavy rainfall. Despite the vulnerabilities of OWTS to increased precipitation and sea level rise, there is little known about how onsite wastewater managers are responding to current and future climate risks. We conducted interviews with wastewater operators and installers and health regulators to understand the functioning, management, and regulation of OWTS in the current climate, challenges with rising sea levels and increases in extreme weather events, and what adaptation strategies could be implemented to mitigate negative impacts. Our results indicate that heavy precipitation and storm surges cause malfunctions for conventional septic systems where traditional site variables (e.g., soil type or groundwater level) are undesirable. Weather and climate are not required regulatory factors to consider in system selection and site approval, but many OWTS managers are aware of their impacts on the functioning of systems, and some are preemptively taking action to mitigate those impacts. Our findings suggest that filling gaps in the current communication structure between regulators and homeowners relying on OWTS is critical for coastal communities in the Carolinas to build climate resilience into decentralized wastewater infrastructure.

Significance Statement

This research aims to understand the functioning, management, and regulation of onsite wastewater treatment systems in the current climate, the challenges to these systems caused by rising sea levels and increases in extreme weather events, and the adaptation strategies that can be implemented to mitigate negative climate impacts. These results can be used by state government agencies, municipalities, and private sector wastewater managers to improve the resiliency of onsite wastewater treatment systems.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Jane Harrison, jane_harrison@ncsu.edu

Abstract

Nearly one-half of the residents of North and South Carolina use decentralized or onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS). As the climate changes, coastal communities relying on OWTS are particularly vulnerable, as soil-based wastewater treatment may be reduced by water inundation from storm surge, sea level rise and associated groundwater rise, and heavy rainfall. Despite the vulnerabilities of OWTS to increased precipitation and sea level rise, there is little known about how onsite wastewater managers are responding to current and future climate risks. We conducted interviews with wastewater operators and installers and health regulators to understand the functioning, management, and regulation of OWTS in the current climate, challenges with rising sea levels and increases in extreme weather events, and what adaptation strategies could be implemented to mitigate negative impacts. Our results indicate that heavy precipitation and storm surges cause malfunctions for conventional septic systems where traditional site variables (e.g., soil type or groundwater level) are undesirable. Weather and climate are not required regulatory factors to consider in system selection and site approval, but many OWTS managers are aware of their impacts on the functioning of systems, and some are preemptively taking action to mitigate those impacts. Our findings suggest that filling gaps in the current communication structure between regulators and homeowners relying on OWTS is critical for coastal communities in the Carolinas to build climate resilience into decentralized wastewater infrastructure.

Significance Statement

This research aims to understand the functioning, management, and regulation of onsite wastewater treatment systems in the current climate, the challenges to these systems caused by rising sea levels and increases in extreme weather events, and the adaptation strategies that can be implemented to mitigate negative climate impacts. These results can be used by state government agencies, municipalities, and private sector wastewater managers to improve the resiliency of onsite wastewater treatment systems.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Jane Harrison, jane_harrison@ncsu.edu
Save