Public Education

Protecting Water Quality and Public Health

Important Information  About “Septic Systems”
The first Segment of this educational series has been left on the EAST website for several weeks, to give persons an opportunity to learn about and review the material. Subsequent Segments, including this one (Segment 2), will be left on this website for approximately one week. Links will be provided though for readers to view earlier missed segments.

While some neighborhoods and urban areas of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John are served by centralized sewers and treatment plants for their wastewater service, most areas of the VI rely on “septic systems”, or de-centralized wastewater systems. A properly planned, constructed and cared for de-centralized, or “septic system”, can effectively serve your home or business for many years. However, there are some basic things that are critical to their successful use and performance.

EAST is devoting this section of their website to providing information to the public about de-centralized systems. Information presented will begin with very basic information, and progress into more detailed planning and construction tools and tips to help guide the construction and use of sound and sustainable de-centralized wastewater systems that will help protect water quality and public health in the VI.

Generic, or generally applicable information will be provided about de-centralized wastewater systems here, with examples of specific systems provided on links to other pages on this website. There will also be a space on this web page devoted to questions and comments from EAST members and the public.

Here’s how this portion of the EAST website will be organized.
Each week we’ll post new information about the planning, construction and management of de-centralized wastewater systems. Because the information will be presented in a progression, with information building upon itself (much like a series of informal lessons or classes), we’ll post links to previous week’s lessons so that when persons haven’t had an opportunity to review information previously posted, they can access that information via a link and webpage to that segment of the material. We’ll try to post the new segment of material each Saturday.

We encourage you to start at the beginning of the information, even if you feel you’re pretty familiar with all of the basics about de-centralized systems. Terminologies and tips explained as the material builds on itself won’t usually be repeated.

We encourage questions. In fact, we love questions, and we also appreciate suggestions.  Use the form provided to send us a comment or question.

Information and examples presented on this website are provided by Susan Parten, P.E., author of Planning and Installing Sustainable Onsite Wastewater Systems (McGraw-Hill, 2009). None of these materials may be copied or reproduced in part or in full without the written permission of the author.

Ms. Parten is a St. Thomas property owner, and has approximately 25 years experience with the design, research and management of wastewater systems and water quality management practices.Ms. Parten provides civil-environmental engineering design and consulting services in the VI and eastern Caribbean region, and throughout the 50 U.S. states. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Masters of Science in Environmental Health Engineering, also from UT-Austin. Her contact information can be found at:

Lesson 1  |  Lesson 2  |  Lesson 3

Environmental Association of St. Thomas and St John