surveyEducational Resources

All educational resources may be downloaded and used for non-profit and educational purposes. They are designed for small community leaders and decision-makers, water and wastewater board members, and the general public, although many other audiences will find the information useful. Please view our Guidelines for Publishing or Using the Materials.

Maintaining Septic and Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems

The best way to keep your septic or onsite system functioning properly--as well as saving money and protecting nearby drinking water sources from contamination--is to regularly maintain it.

EPA's SepticSmart: A website offering numerous downloadable resources for homeowners with septic systems and government leaders about how to maintain septic systems, and the importance and benefits of doing so. Materials are available in English and Spanish.

SepticSmart Outreach Toolkit: Ready-to-use educational materials and case studies for launching a homeowners outreach program.

A Homeowner’s Guide to SepticSmart for Tribal Communities: Nine-page guide for tribal communities and homeowners regarding proper care of septic systems on tribal lands.

NESC's Lifestyle Public Service Announcements: These 30-second Lifestyle PSA's can be downloaded and posted to your website or distributed to local television stations for broadcast. They point out the importance of septic system maintenance for protecting water sources and protecting property values.

Plan Ahead for Emergencies

The best time to plan for emergencies is ahead of time, not in the midst of the crisis.

Plan Now, Don't Wait for the Emergency:
Offers downloadable resources small water or wastewater systems can use to help prepare for emergencies. Topics addressed are (1) Protecting Source Water, (2) The Importance of Planning and Management, (3) Addressing Aging Infrastructure, and (4) Being Ready for Emergencies.

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Our Waterways

The following resources address the topic of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in our waterways. They include a brochure, fact sheets, a PowerPoint presentation and instructor's guide, a reference article, and federal guidelines for properly disposing of prescription drugs.

PowerPoint: "What's in our water and what can we do about it?" [ppt, 2.3 MB]
This 13-slide PowerPoint covers information about how PPCPs get into the water, what is known about their effects, suggestions for making more informed use and purchasing decisions, and proper disposal practices. Supporting facts and information are provided in the "notes pages" view. The PowerPoint can be adapted to reflect local activities or services.

Instructor's Guide: "What's in our water and what can we do about it?" [ word document, 104 KB]
This eight-page Instructor's Guide accompanies the PowerPoint Presentation above and offers learning objectives, sample activities and handouts, and resources for more information.

Fact Sheet and Illustration: "Origins and Fate of PPCPs in the Environment—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [ pdf file ]
This one-page fact sheet includes detailed drawing and basic explanation of the many ways PPCPs enter the environment and waterways.

Federal Guidelines: “How to Dispose of Unused Medicines"--U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Website listing federal guidelines for disposing of unused prescription drugs and medicines.

Reference Article: "This is Your Water . . . on Drugs?"—RCAP's Safe Drinking Water Trust eBulletin [pdf file, 312 KB]
This article, published April 23, 2008, summarizes the Associated Press findings and subsequent articles about drugs in drinking water, discusses responses to this information, and provides a case study and recommendations for addressing the problem.

Guidelines for Publishing or Using the Materials

"Water We Drink" products are available free to download for educational and non-profit use, such as reprinting in your newsletter or magazine, distributing via email or Internet, or using in training, meetings or presentations. For each educational product, please acknowledge the source. For "Water We Drink" articles dated 2012 and later, please acknowledge the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) and the article author(s). For "Water We Drink" articles dated 2011 and earlier, please acknowledge the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), the National Environmental Services Center (NESC), and the article author(s).

We appreciate hearing about how you use this information. Please complete the online survey or contact:

Sandra Fallon, NESC Training Specialist
(phone) (304) 293-4191 ext. 36897 or (e-mail)