The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC) is operated by the Department for the purpose of testing new pollutant-reduction technologies and disseminating that information to the towns for possible incorporation into their comprehensive wastewater planning efforts. Established in 1999, the Test Center is operated by George Heufelder and staff members Keith Mroczka and William Klein. It has been at the forefront of developing and conducting testing protocols that establish the efficacy of new technologies, and is supported solely by grants from state and federal sources and subscriber funding.
During fiscal year 2010, at least six technologies or products underwent research and development at the site. Technologies that gave initial promise based on tests elsewhere in the world are also continuing to test under our local conditions. In addition, the Test Center continues to serve as a location where internationally-accepted protocols, established by the National Sanitation Foundation International, can be conducted.
During 2010, the Test Center initiated research on the efficacy of soils-based septic systems for removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products. This project, funded jointly by industry, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State DEP through the Section 319(b) Section Grant Program hopes to identify best management practices for the treatment of this class of persistent compounds. The specific technology class being investigated, drip dispersal, also offers the potential reduction of nutrients in wastewater as well as negating the need for the application of commercial fertilizer in certain instances.
Another project initiated under the aegis of the Test Center in 2010 allows for the installation and monitoring of composting toilets and urine separating devices by Test Center personnel. The project will be used to determine whether the remaining graywater from homes served is sufficiently low in nutrients to enable the strategies to be applied to nutrient management in watersheds. This program also uses lending power afforded by the Community Septic Management Program to finance the installations.