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Barnstable County’s Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC) awarded $1.24M grant to study pathogen reduction during wastewater treatment processes


Information from: Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment

Barnstable County’s Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC) awarded $1.24M grant to study pathogen reduction during wastewater treatment processes

August 27, 2021 – Barnstable, MA | The Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC), a division of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, announced today that they have been awarded a $1.24M research grant through the EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program to study pathogen reduction in on-site and municipal wastewater treatment units.

Since it was founded in 1999, the MASSTC has become a leading test facility for innovative onsite septic system technologies. Research performed at the Test Center has been instrumental in providing a better understanding of how viruses, bacteria, environmentally hazardous nutrients, and contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) can be treated before they make their way into our drinking water and fragile ecosystems.

EPA’s STAR grant focuses specifically on the reduction of infectious viral pathogens during the wastewater treatment process. The study will focus on two important goals: 1) assessing the presence and persistence of human enteric viruses in groundwater and 2) identifying unique treatment technologies capable of removing pathogens to allow for cleaner groundwater and safe reuse of wastewater.

The study will examine eight specialized wastewater treatment processes with respect to the removal and/or inactivation of viral pathogens. State-of-the-art analytical methods will be utilized in MASSTC’s on-site laboratory and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Laboratory in Lawrence, MA to determine the effectiveness of each technology. The data from this study will ultimately serve to inform policies and guidelines relative to testing of new wastewater treatment technologies nation-wide.

According to MASSTC’s Director, Brian Baumgaertel, “This project will allow us to better understand the potential for reusing treated wastewater at the location it is created – right in our own backyards. Water reuse locally is part of a national conversation about how to end ‘single-use water’, whether that is in the arid southwest or the water-abundant northeast. Finding sustainable options to the status quo is important to protecting our precious water resources for generations to come.”

Beneficiaries of the study include wastewater operators, state and local regulators, residents of Barnstable County and the public in regions where water quality and wastewater disposal are important environmental and public health considerations.

More information regarding the Test Center and its various wastewater research projects can be found at

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY DERPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT Established under a Special Act of the Legislature in 1926, the Barnstable County Department of Health & Environment (BCDHE) provides regional public health and environmental health services throughout the 15 towns comprising Barnstable County. The Department manages several environmental, public health, and homeland security grants funded through state and federal resources. The Department’s primary mission is to protect public health and the environment and promote the physical and mental health and well-being of Barnstable County residents.