Decentralized Wastewater Treatment – Continuing Education for Designers and Installers

Onsite wastewater treatment systems are an accepted permanent solution to manage wastewater from a single house to a small cluster of buildings. Proper siting, design, operation, and management is essential to meet treatment goals and keep expenses low. This training provides a comprehensive, fundamental background about onsite wastewater treatment, designed for the professional audience. A list of each training module and a brief description of their content follows.


  • Module 1, Onsite Wastewater - Past, Present, and Future, has an estimated completion time of 2 hours. The difference between onsite and centralized wastewater treatment is first discussed. Regulations, specific to Michigan, are then presented.
  • Module 2, Types of Pollutants, has an estimated completion time of 1 hour. A very basic overview of pollutants found in wastewater and their importance from a human health, environmental, design, and regulatory perspective is reviewed.
  • Module 3, Septic Tank Design and Function, has an estimated completion time of 2 hours. Septic tanks are comprehensively reviewed including their function, selection, design, construction, operation, and maintenance.
  • Module 4, The Soil Component, has an estimated completion time of 3 hours. Water flow though soil is illustrated followed by a comprehensive review of its role for treating wastewater. Included are details on soil profile, structure, texture, topography, and slope. The use of the land above a drain field is also reviewed.
  • Module 5, Wastewater Transport, has an estimated completion time of 2 hours. All components of wastewater movement are discussed including pumps, lift stations, pressure distribution systems, and equalization.
  • Module 6, Advanced and Alternative Treatments, has an estimated completion time of 3 hours. When site-specific conditions do not allow for an inexpensive septic tank and drain field, alternative and advanced treatment systems are used. Such conditions may include a shallow water table, poor soil conditions, and shallow rock strata. The various categories of such systems are described and the importance of evaluating manufacturer products are reviewed by examining selected manufactural websites, as designs are often proprietary.     
  • Module 7, Water Reuse, has an estimated completion time of 1 hour. General concepts of water reuse are discussed, including benefits, regulatory issues, and design.
  • Module 8, High Strength Wastewater Treatment, has an estimated completed time of 1 hour. High strength wastewater is defined and sources reviewed. Treatment challenges and design considerations are discussed.  Case studies describing solitons to common systems are presented.
  • Module 9, Management Case Studies, has an estimated completion time of 1 hour. Important operational and management requirements are explored though reviewing diverse case studies concerning the correction of malfunctioning systems.  A description of these case studies were assembled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a single handbook.

The training is online and self-paced, although all modules must be completed within a six-week period. A diverse educational delivery approach is used consisting of readings, narrated presentations, videos, and websites. A module is started by opening the first presentation and progressing from slide to slide, in order. Often a slide refers to another document that must be opened and reviewed before proceeding to the next slide in the first presentation. All are in order on the D2L site, as presented in the first presentation. To proceed from one module to the next, a quiz and/or contribution to an online discussion is required. 

This course will be available for six weeks. A few days before the course start, you will receive an email with instructions for setting up an MSU Community ID that is needed prior to logging into the course, along with details on navigating the course. Note: You will not be able to access the course until the starting date of the course. 

Course Dates

The Decentralized Wastewater Treatment – Continuing Education for Designers and Installers online course will be offered twice throughout the year. During registration, you will be select your preferred course from the following date options:  

  Course Start Date Course Ending Date 
January to March Jan. 18, 2023 March 1, 2023
April to May
April 12, 2023 May 23, 2023

Registration Fees

The registration fee for this online course of $125 per person. 

CSE & CEC Credits

Successful completion of the entire course (all modules) results in the award of 1.6 MDEQ continuing education credits (CEC) and/or 16 continuing septage education credits (CSE), pending approval from the state. Visit the MDEQ Septage Education Website for more information. Credits are given in an all or nothing format.

Technology Requirements

Since this class is conducted solely online, a fast internet connection with a high allowable data use is mandatory in order to view videos and download documents. The use of two monitors is desirable for ease of use, but not required. 

The course utilizes Michigan State University’s Desire2Learn (D2L) interface and it is recommended that you perform a systems check to ensure the necessary software is on your computer.

Cancellation Policy

Registration fees are refundable, less a $20.00 cancellation fee up until 10 days prior to the course start date. After that date, refunds will no longer be available. Registrations may be transferred to another attendee.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information contact Betsy Braid at or 517-884-7081.